Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to Make a Picture Book out of a Folder

I created this nifty folder photo album for an upcoming trip to the States.  I'm always thinking of inexpensive things I can create and wanted something that was light and portable for traveling.  Since Blue Rock doesn't see his extended family but once a year, I thought I would create something fun for him to look at on the airplane. He loves pictures and recognizes all of his grandparents and my sister because of Skype.  Other than that, this will be a great refresher.  I'm missing a picture of one of his great-grandmothers so I'll have to create another one once I get a picture of her. I only included greats, grandparents, and aunts and uncles due to space.  In the future I would like to make another photo folder with extended family. 

How to make a picture book out of a folder:

- Print the pictures you want to use.  Ask people to email you a picture of themselves if you don't have one.
- Cut the bottom folder out of the folder so it's flat.
- I used a glue stick and pasted the pictures on the folder.
- Write the names of the family members under each picture. 
- To seal, use clear contact paper and place on top of the pictures. I cut the contact paper into four strips and placed it inside the folds. By sealing your folder, your child won't be able to tear the pictures off and if he/she spills something on it you can wipe it clean.  In Germany you can buy contact paper at places like Kaufland.

Very simple and cheap.  I think Blue Rock is going to love this.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grocery Shopping in Germany

Photo by Peace Correspondent
Shopping for groceries in Germany is a little different than shopping for groceries in the States.  For one, most towns have a weekly or bi-weekly farmers market that sets up downtown. This makes getting fresh produce and meats easy.  There are also produce shops, meat markets, and bakeries in most towns.

As far as doing more serious shopping, there are several stores I shop at regularly.  My favorites are Rewe (seems to have the best produce and tends to have more Bio (organic) produce), Lidl (cheapest store I shop at), and Kaufland (best store to go to in bad weather).  Targets and Wal-Marts do not exist in Germany.  Wal-Mart came to Germany in the mid-90s and sold their 85 stores in 2006.  If you miss going to Wal-Mart visit a Real or Kaufland.  The Real stores in our area used to be where the Wal-Marts were.  They are smaller than a Wal-Mart Super Center but sell everything from groceries, to cleaners, to clothing.  Real is a little far for me to drive so I prefer going to Kaufland which also sells a variety of things besides food and has reasonable prices.  Other popular grocery stores are Aldi and Plus.

Kaufland and the Familia Centers - which often have a Kaufland store, typically have parking garages.  Covered parking is really nice when it's raining, snowing, or really hot outside.  They also have a few other stores inside the building such as a bakery, flower shops, clothing stores, etc.

Here are a few tips when grocery shopping in Germany:

1. Always carry a little change.  You have to put a Euro in your grocery cart.  The carts are connected by chains and when your return your cart, you get your money back.

2. Bring bags or a basket to put your groceries in because there are no free bags at the stores.  You can buy them starting at around 10 Euro cent (about $0.145) per bag and up, depending on the size and type of bag. 

3. Be prepared to bag your groceries and try and do it quickly.  There is only a cash register and he/she does not bag your groceries.  The first time I went shopping I looked like a fool waiting there, with no bags, as I got starred at by the people behind me.  I ended up having to buy bags while holding up the line as I tried to quickly bag my items.

4. Bring cash if you don't have a EC card (European debit card).  Grocery stores do not accept credit cards or American debit cards.

5. If there is a machine to weigh your produce to get a price tag, use it.  Thankfully most machines have pictures of the items and are pretty easy to use.  If you neglect to do this, the cashier will get mad and so will the people behind you in line.  Yes, this has also happened to me.

Other than that, shopping for groceries in Germany is not that different than buying them in the States.

PUPPP again?!

After my son was born two years ago, I broke out in a horrible rash.  I saw two different dermatologists at the time before one of them told me I had something called PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy).  Since I was breastfeeding they didn't want to give me a steroid.  Instead they gave me three different prescriptions, two standard creams and one mixed cream the pharmacy put together.

PUPPP is not very common, or so I was told.  It's a rash that spread all over my body and itched like crazy.  It spread everywhere except my face, including the soles of my feet.  It felt like I had a bad case of poison ivy.  The creams didn't help very much and so I was reading online what to do.  Several people suggested dandelion root.  I went to the Reformhaus and bought some liquid dandelion root and took shots of that 3x a day.  After about 4 weeks the rash finally went away - it was 2 weeks after starting the dandelion root.

What I want to know is, can you get PUPPP after a miscarriage?  Because I am breaking out in the same rash as I had before.  About 6 months ago on my stomach where it started before I was having problems.  I went to see a third dermatologist then to try and get rid of it again.  I went through 3 treatments and it was still slightly there but not spreading.  So I don't know if my body never fully got rid of it or what.  It is now spreading from my stomach to my back and thighs.  I went to the Reformhaus yesterday (they are closed on Sunday) and asked for capsules of dandelion root.  They would have to order it and it would take a week.  So I went to the pharmacy to see what they said. Both ladies looked me over and said they could order me something.  I was able to pick it up last night.  It's called Epi-Pevaryl 1% Creme which helps fungal infections - I was hoping to get a steroid.  I already have an appointment in the States so if this doesn't help I'll see another doctor then.  Also, my step-mother is getting me some dandelion root capsules and I am currently taking a shower and washing with Pine Tar soap. PUPPP from what I remember is caused by hormonal imbalances of the liver.  The reason dandelion root is supposed to help is because it is a natural liver cleanser.  Anyway, if anyone has any insight into this, please let me know.  I itch like crazy!  Sadly, not a lot of research has been done on PUPPPs because it is not dangerous to mothers or babies, it just itches really bad.

First pictures are from 2009.  No pictures of my stomach from then, I just had a baby and looked pretty sad.  Notice the rash and the pattern. I think this heat is making it worse.  Thankfully PUPPPs is not contagious.

Back of arm 2 years ago

Back of legs - it moved to the soles of my feet. I remember wanting to walk on glass it itched that badly

These bottom two pictures were taken Saturday night.



Friday, August 19, 2011

Follow-up doctor's visit

I'm sharing this with you in hopes that I can help or encourage someone who may experience something similar to mine.  This is also helping me with the grieving process.  There are typically two types of personalities, those who really grieve a miscarriage and those who don't.  I am one of those who is having a difficult time and writing is the best therapy for me.  As a caution, if you don't want to read about my miscarriage, please stop here.

Today I went to the follow-up doctor's visit with my original doctor.  He of course saw some tissue and wanted to do a D&C.  We asked him what the pros and cons would be.  He said I would stop bleeding and in 10-12 days could try again - apparently you spot for 10-12 days after having a D&C.  I asked if I didn't stop bleeding how long would I bleed for.  He said he didn't know.  My other doctor (2nd opinion doctor) said last Tuesday that usually early miscarriages result in bleeding a little longer than a regular period.  She said maybe a few days longer but not much more than that.  Also she didn't think I needed a D&C. 

The doctor asked how things were going and I told him I went ahead and got the RhoGAM shot because of the risks of not getting one.  I'm RH-negative.  He acted offended because I got it.  This made me mad.  For one, the midwife at the hospital Sunday wanted to give it to me then - she sees lots and lots of pregnant women and women who miscarry.  And my old doctor said the positives far outweigh the negatives and didn't see why I would not get it.  We asked him why he thought I didn't need one.  I don't think he understood my question because he said the embryo has to implant.  When I asked him when this happened, he said he didn't know, it just depends.  This seemed very odd since we saw the embryo a week ago - a white line in the sonogram.  Did he forget?  What he lying then?  Also, I researched it online and the embryo implants at conception.  I was 6 weeks pregnant and conception by a doctor's definition happened 4 weeks ago.  Since I am RH-negative, I have read quite a bit about this.  When I first started bleeding last Saturday I knew I needed to at least get to the hospital for the RhoGAM shot.  You are supposed to get it within 72 hours of bleeding, a miscarriage, or giving birth (if your child is RH-positive and if you are RH-negative).  My old doctor was very good during my last pregnancy and since I didn't have any bleeding I got it at around 28 weeks and after I gave birth.  My son is RH-positive so that was a good thing I got it!  Most people are RH-positive, thankfully.

Going back to my appointment.  One thing I didn't like was this doctor seemed uncomfortable when we asked him questions.  That I do not like.  If I have a question about my health, I'd like an answer.  If they don't know, that's okay.  I honestly don't have a lot of questions.  But before I undergo anesthesia and have my insides scraped out, I want to know if it's truly necessary.  Two other OBGYNs have told me that a D&C is not necessary this early on, one German and one American.  Every time I have been under anesthesia, I get very nauseous and throw-up. It also takes me a while to feel like myself again.  This was one huge reason I did not want an epidural when I gave birth to my son - if something had gone wrong, then of course I'd get one and I don't look down on anyone who has one.  For me personally, I work better when I'm aware of the pain.  Strong medicines have a strong affect on me.  Sadly, I usually wait too long to take something. For example, when I get a headache it usually turns into a migraine because I wait too long to do something about it.  So my method is not always the best.  

I ended up NOT getting the D&C.  My husband and I talked about it a few minutes in private and decided not to.  We'll be in the States soon so I can have a follow-up visit there. If there was an infection or I was further along, I would probably get one.  I'm not against them if someone has a miscarriage, I am just against having a surgery that I don't feel is necessary and for me personally, I didn't think in my case this was necessary. 

It wasn't but a few hours later that I had a little more heavy bleeding and then all of the sudden it pretty much stopped.  I have had very light spotting this afternoon/evening - which is exactly what my other doctor said would happen.  I'll find out in a few days if it stops.  My other doctor wants me to come get my hGC levels tested next week.  She called me yesterday with Tuesday's lab results and said they were still kind of high.  I may take a pregnancy test first, if it comes back negative, which it should, then I think I'll wait until the States for any further testing.  Pregnancy tests are much cheaper than lab tests.  

This past week has been one of the most stressful and saddest weeks of my life.  I'm a pretty optimistic person and don't ever expect the worse to happen.  I truly hope I don't lose that.  I like being excited about birth and life, even if it means a very hard fall if/when things don't go how I had hoped.  Pregnancy to me, should be a time of joy, not worry and constant fear.  I read 1 in 8 women have a miscarriage.  If you've had one then you have a 25% chance of having another one.  That means I have a 75% chance of having a healthy, beautiful child if we are blessed with a future pregnancy.  Praise God! 

I want to say thank you to everyone who has sent emails, messages, and called me.  I appreciate the encouragement and comfort.  You have given me hope that having a healthy baby is possible after a miscarriage and the strength to continue on.  And no, I don't think I will go back to this doctor.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Difficult Time

Tuesday evening, we found out we lost the baby. We're heartbroken, absolutely heartbroken. =(  I never in a million years would have thought this would happen.  Having a miscarriage in Germany has made things a little more difficult since we're so far away from family.  Thankfully, my husband is wonderful and I have some very precious friends here.  And I am so grateful to live in the time of internet and Skype. It's not the same as being with someone in person but it helps.

Last Saturday when I started bleeding I was actually in a little bit of denial that something was truly wrong.  I went on to my friend's baby shower, then went by the grocery store and came home.  That night we went to another friend's birthday party.  However, the bleeding continued and Sunday morning I woke up very worried.  I was worried Saturday but after reading A LOT about bleeding during pregnancy I read that is can be pretty common.  I was spotting and had some cramping - which I never had with my son - but I honestly  thought I would be okay.

We found out we were pregnant July 31, 2011.  My husband and I were so excited about having another child.  It was so hard to keep the exciting news a secret.  Since we're coming home in a few weeks, we decided we would wait and surprise everyone in person.  I bought two shirts for my son that say, "I'm a big brother" and pajamas that say the same.  We were planning on cooking out with my family and we would let our son tell everyone.  He has been practicing saying, "I'm going to be a BIG brother!" and is so cute when he says it.  Sunday morning after going to the hospital we decided we needed prayers more than we needed to surprise anyone.  I was truly hopeful that I would be one of the lucky ones whose baby would make it.

Monday morning when we went to the doctor we found out the baby had gone from 5mm to 3mm.  My husband described it to me as the baby went from looking round like a grape to looking more like a raisin.  How depressing!  My doctor wanted me to come in Friday and have a D&C done if things didn't look better.  I had no idea what a D&C was and after reading about it I decided I didn't want that done, especially since the sac was still there.  We could see it in the ultrasound.  This same doctor told one of my friends the same thing, he told her he thought she was having a miscarriage and to come back in a week and have a D&C done.  Well, a week went by and she came in and there was a heartbeat.  She just had her baby a few weeks ago and he is healthy and precious.  So I continued hoping that this would be the case for us as well.

Tuesday I went in for a second opinion.  I went to my old doctor I saw when I was pregnant with my son.  One thing I didn't like about my new doctor is he never drew blood to check my hGC levels and he didn't think he needed to give me the RhoGAM shot even though I have rh-negative blood.  Even the midwife at the hospital Sunday wanted to give it to me.  When she called my new doctor he said he'd give it to me in his office - which he didn't do.  When I saw my old doctor on Tuesday she said the positives far outweigh the negatives and gave me the shot herself.  I haven't really seen many nurses in Germany like I do in the U.S. The doctors tend to do a lot of the work - shots, ultrasounds, etc.  Anyway, I got in with her Tuesday evening.  I feel so blessed to have such great neighbors, they watched our son so I could meet my husband at the doctor's office as he came straight from work.  They even cooked dinner for us (we eat with them about once a week anyway).  My doctor did a vaginal ultrasound and the baby's sac was gone.  I am in tears as I write this, I am just so sad and sick that it didn't work out.  What I don't understand is why?  Why did I even get pregnant only to miscarry?  Why is it we go so many years not trying to get pregnant and then when we're fully ready and want a child it doesn't work out?  What irony!  I know I'm not the only woman in the world to question this.  I know God has a plan and it's got to be bigger than mine.  I just don't understand it. 

Yesterday morning I told my son we lost the baby.  He said, "we lost the baby" and seemed sad.  I don't know how much he understands but with life and death I like complete honesty.  Blue Rock has been such a comfort to me and I think I'm appreciating him even more.  At least I have one handsome, smart, and sweet child.  To God I am very grateful.  After my mother died when I was 11, I lived with some level denial for years.  A part of me kept hoping that it didn't really happen and one day she would walk through the front door and come home.  I don't want to live like that anymore.  So as hard as it is for me to share this, I think it's important for me.  Everyone grieves differently.  My husband worried about sharing his thoughts with me because we view things a little differently and I told him I appreciated him sharing his feelings with me.  Frankly, I need love poured on me during this time.  Normally I tend to be more independent and don't reach out for help.  I am all too good at pretending things are okay.  I don't know if it's just living in Germany and being away from my normal environment, but I have now learned how to ask for help and am able to face life for what it is.

I would never wish the loss of a child on anyone.  A sweet, dear friend of mine shared a prayer her sister said to her when she lost her baby.  She said she was praying that God was welcoming our baby into heaven with open arms.  Thinking about my child in Heaven brings a lot of comfort to me.  I am saddened at how many people have had this happen to them.  I am also thankful for friends and family.  I have appreciated the calls, messages, and emails.  As sad as I am for everyone who has also lost a baby, I am comforted that I am not alone in this.  I kept thinking something must be wrong with me but from what the doctor said, he doesn't think so. I am trying to lean on God through this and am taking it day by day.

The one song that keeps coming to mind is called "Blessed Be Your Name."  We sing this song at church sometimes.  It talks about going through good times and bad but we will choose to always say "blessed be Your name."  God never promised us that life would be easy.  No, He tells us in His word to expect trials and hardships. I want to say thank you for praying for us, thank you for sharing your stories with us.  Sometimes knowing we're not alone in this is one of the biggest comforts of all.  We love you and appreciate you.

Here are a few verses that have brought some comfort to me.  May we find comfort in God our Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

1 Peter 5:10 ESV 

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

James 1:12 ESV 

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Romans 12:12 ESV
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

John 16:33 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

Romans 5:3-5 ESV
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Prayer Request

First picture of our baby taken last Friday, 8.12.11
We want to ask all our friends out there to please pray for us.  This may seem like a strange way to tell people, but I know if you read this blog then you probably either know me or care about our family, maybe both. I am 6 weeks pregnant.  My first doctor's appointment was last Friday.  Everything looked great.  Then Saturday I started bleeding. and having cramps  This continued Sunday, so we went to the hospital Sunday morning. I wasn't sure where to go and that seemed like the most logical place to go on the weekend. A midwife did an ultrasound, things weren't looking too good.  She said to stay off my feet and rest.  She called my doctor and talked to him because I am rH negative and she wanted to know if she should give me the shot or if I should wait until I saw him. He said for me to wait and he wanted to see me Monday morning. This morning I went to see him.  Things are still not looking good.  My doctor said that most likely I am having a miscarriage.  I ask that you please pray that I'm not.  Several people have told me they bled throughout their pregnancy and things turned out okay.  We are going back to the doctor Friday morning.  The sac is still there, it is just smaller.  It went from round to oval.  =(  If we don't hear the heartbeat then we have probably lost him/her.  This is a very sad time for us.  We were waiting to share the good news when we come in town in a few weeks and were so excited to finally announce a pregnancy to our family in person.  However, due to the unexpected, we are asking for prayers at this time.  Please pray that God will help our little one make it.  If it is not His will, ask for peace and healing for our family.  I am at a loss for words.  I know several people have called me today but I have not been able to pick up the phone.  I will respond eventually.  I am just very sad and worried right now.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Trees and Mountains Folder Numbers Game

Trees and Mountains Number Game
Here is another folder game I created. I took a cheap folder and cut the inside pockets off.  Then I printed numbers 1-50 and pasted them on the folder. Simply print my template, cut it, and paste it inside a folder.  This is a cheap, easy, portable, and fun game.  My son loves this game too!  To download this game, click here.
To play: 

1. Select a place holder.  We usually use a plastic animal but you could use anything, including a cap off a water bottle.

2. Roll the dice and move that many spaces.

3. When you land on a number, say what it is.  Practice counting spaces and saying numbers up to 50.  If your child doesn’t know the number, say it and have them repeat what you say. 

4. There are 4 tree spaces and 4 mountain spaces to add.  You can put these anywhere you’d like.  When the player lands on a number with a mountain below it, the player slides down to the number below.  When the player lands on a number with a tree over it, the player climbs the tree to the number above the tree.

5. The first person to reach the finish line wins.

*If you have an older child playing, you could have them practice saying the numbers in another language such as German, French, or Spanish.
**When assembling the game, it's faster to keep the numbers in a row when pasting, rather than cut each number out individually. 

You may also like: Folder ABC Game

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Folder ABC Game

I'm always thinking of games to play with my son.  I came up with something I call folder games.  This is the first game I created.  I took a cheap $0.25 folder, cut the inside pockets off.  Then printed the letters of the alphabet and pasted them on the folder. Simply print my template, cut it, and paste it inside a folder.  This is a cheap, easy, portable, and fun game.  My son loves it!  Of course he loves anything to do with letters. To download this game, click here.

To play: 

1. Select a place holder.  We usually use a plastic animal but you could use anything, including a cap off a water bottle.

2. Roll the dice and move that many spaces.

3. When you land on a letter, say the letter's name and the sound it makes. This is great phonics practice.  If your child doesn't know the letters or sounds, say it and have them repeat what you say.

4. The first person to reach the finish line wins.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Swimming Pools in Germany

Swimming pools, also known as schwimmbads, are very popular in Germany.  Just about every city or town has a swimming pool.  The bigger the city, the bigger the pool.  Most swimming pools are open year-round.  Depending on where you go, there will usually be indoor and outdoor pools.  The outside pools are only open in the summer.  

If you go swimming in Germany you will notice a few differences.  Mainly if you visit the sauna (which children are not allowed), the changing rooms, and showers.  In most saunas, swimsuits are not allowed.  The only one I went to was at a hotel near Munich, not a public pool.  I walked in, wearing my swimsuit, and was shocked and uncomfortable to see I was the only one with a swimsuit on. I asked if I could keep my suit on.  One of the ladies said yes.  But I felt very uncomfortable.  I'm a pretty modest person.  I left shortly after.  I have heard you can take your towel in and cover up with that.  I honestly just avoid saunas.  

As far as the swimming pools go, most people wear swimsuits.  You'll see some little kids running around naked and many little girls just wearing swimsuit bottoms, but for the most part people are as covered as you'd see in the States.  Now if you go to the showers, the women's is typically set-up like a guy's locker room in the States.  Shower heads along the walls, all open.  Every time I have gone to rinse off I am the only one wearing a swimsuit.  But I have never felt the need to change what I do.  Usually it's a bunch of old ladies in there because a lot of older people swim in Germany.  I just keep to myself and sometimes will just wait until I get home.  

I have heard that some pools have naked days.  A friend of mine's husband took her boys swimming one day.  After a certain time someone blew a whistle and everyone took their swimsuits off.  Her boys did not.  One of the workers told them that they had to take their swimsuits off or leave. The boys were younger then and thought it was funny to see everyone naked.  I have yet to go swimming during those times nor do I plan on it.

Last week I met up with a friend and her son and we took our boys swimming.  The boys loved it.  Here are a few pictures of the one we went to.  

This is part of the kiddie pool. As you can see, it's a large place.

One of the bigger pools with a wide slide in the distance

Another view of kiddie pool and fun round slide I took my son down

slide in the kiddie pool

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Typical Day as a Stay-at-Home Mom

When my husband gets home in the evenings we talk about our day. Yesterday and today I decided to document my day in pictures.  I'm always telling my husband what my son, "Blue Rock," and I do but I don't usually take pictures to go along with it.  My husband suggested I blog about it. 

First of all, being a stay-at-home mom is the most exhausting job I have ever had.  On the flip side, it is also the most fun and rewarding. While every day is different and doesn't always go as smoothly as I had hoped, here is what a typical day at my house looks like. This is what we did today.

The night before I set out trays of activities for my son to complete the next day.  This is a hands-on and Montessori approach to education.  I just started the doing toddler trays, which I'll explain in a later post.  It basically keeps things organized and allows me to rotate different educational activities for my son to do.  It also helps me rotate his toys better.
Here are our trays of activities for the day
During breakfast we go over our weekly memory verse.After breakfast it's Calendar time.

Blue Rock loves calendar time and is getting really good at it.

Blue Rock picked tracing first today.  He traced two pages.  The more he practices, the better he gets.
Then I traced his hands, then he traced my hand, then I traced his feet.  I wanted him to just draw, but he wanted to trace hands and feet.
Then he went to play with his Mr. Potato Head.  He put the eyes and mouth in funny places and laughed and laughed.
After we got dressed, we met up with some friends and visited a small zoo.  In Germany, it's called a Tierpark.
He loved seeing all the animals and hanging out with his friend.
After lunch we worked on letters.  We played a letter matching game.  He matched capital and lower case letter As to the letters on the tree.  I bought a little curriculum that had this here.

Then we went over the letter J in his Hooked on Phonics for Preschool workbook. 
Next he went over shapes and colors.  This is Lauri Toys Shape and Color Sorter.
Then Blue Rock had free time to play while I got some things done.  During free time, he decided to throw a fit for about 45 minutes.  After trying to console but not giving in, I called my step-mother for advice while trying to decide the best way to handle his tantrum.  I finally decided to continue to ignore him and eventually he came downstairs and I gave him a hug and told him I love him.  I took my step-mother's advice and prayed for him.  That helped calm me and Blue Rock stopped crying.  I should have prayed earlier. Also, he was just fine. It wasn't long after he came downstairs that he was laughing and playing happily again. Sorry, no pictures of the tantrum.

I gave Blue Rock a snack and asked him if he wanted to play downstairs.  Of course he did!  Downstairs is his favorite place to play.  He went to the last activity I had for him today.

He sorted pom poms by color and placed them in rows in this ice cube tray I got for 1 Euro from IKEA.
Then sweet husband took us out to dinner to celebrate our 3rd anniversary in Germany.  We ate at our favorite Greek restaurant.
Being a mom is my favorite job! Lately, my photo shoots keep getting rained out, so I have had more time to focus on learning activities.  Being a stay-at-home mom is not boring. We're always busy, always learning, and always having fun.  I usually only have about 4 educational activities to do per day.  Since Blue Rock is only 2, I allow him to have plenty of free time to play and explore.  We also try and get out of the house at least once per day.  Sometimes it involves errands, other days going to the park, the pool, and visiting friends. The whole idea with the trays is to keep him working on skills I want him to master, allow him to complete an activity, and learn to put it away once he's done. So far this is working out really well for us.    

Thursday, August 4, 2011

3 Years in Germany!

3 years ago at the airport in Germany
Today is our 3rd anniversary living in Germany and we're still alive!  Three years ago today we arrived in a country we had never been to.  What were we thinking?!  We had no idea how long we would stay but knew we would stay at least one year.  In honor of our 3rd year anniversary, I am going to share with you 10 things we love about Germany.

1. Laid back lifestyle - we rarely feel the need to "rush" somewhere.  Life is simple, most places we visit are close by, and overall it seems more laid back than when we lived in Texas.

2. The traffic - really, the lack of.  I can probably count on one hand the number of traffic jams we've been in since living here.  The most recent one was when I picked up my friend from the airport during rush hour in April.  Other than that, I can't remember the last traffic jam I have been in. 

3. Fresh air - we live around a lot of farms.  Except when it's fertilizing time, or when someone lights up a cigarette, we enjoy the clean air around us.

4. Germany is very kid-friendly - we have around a dozen parks alone in our small city.  Most public places young children get in free and most Germans seem to love children.  In fact, it wasn't until I was pregnant with Caden (and actually looked pregnant) that Germans started smiling at me.  Also, if you are German and have a child, you get a lot of wonderful financial perks, including kindergeld (money for each child, every month, up to the age of 25).

5. Beauty - Besides living with my handsome husband and son, Germany is one of the prettiest places I have ever lived.  I actually have never seen an ugly place in Germany. 

6. Food - there are a lot of great restaurants in our area.  I also like how you can order simple foods like salads, burgers, schnitzel, and fries and have them delivered for free.  I give a tip, but hey, I'm American.

7. Travel opportunities - Germany is located in one of the best places in Europe for traveling in Europe.

8. Language - being surrounded by a lot of different languages and experiencing different cultures.

9. Friendships and Ministry - we have made some wonderful friends here and have been able to serve in ways we are unable to in the States. 

10. Our son was born here - if nothing else, having my first child in Germany is something I will always remember.

Overall, we are enjoying our experience living abroad.  Although, we do miss many things about the States, such as family, friends, and less expensive delicious food.  But for a little while longer, we are going to continue living in Germany.

How to make laundry detergent

I am always looking for ways to save money without sacrificing quality.  I got this laundry detergent recipe from the book Be CentsAble: How to Cut Your Household Budget in Half by Chrissy Pate and Kristin McKee - which by the way, is a great book.  Here is how to make homemade laundry detergent using just three main ingredients plus lots of water.

Laundry Detergent 


About 3 oz of bar soap, grated. Any bar of soap will do, even all-natural bar soaps.

1/2 cup borax

1/2 cup washing soda


On the stove, in a large pot, combine 6 cups of water with grated soap and heat on medium until the soap is melted. Stir in borax and washing soda until everything is dissolved. 

In a large bucket, place 4 cups of hot water and then add your soap mix.  Stir well and then add 1 gallon plus 6 cups of water.  Stir again and then let sit overnight.  The detergent will be a watery gel that might look cloudy. Use one-half cup per load.

That's it!  Pretty easy, right?  They say this laundry detergent is better than many store bought brands.  Also it ends up costing around 1 cent per load.  Once I find all the ingredients in Germany, or decide to buy them online, I plan on making some and trying it.
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