Monday, January 31, 2011

It Was a Sunday Afternoon in January

... and it was sunny in Los Angeles.  Opa & Oma had come over from Europe.  I don't know what possessed me, but that morning I had gone out to Barnes and Noble to get a book:  "I [heart] Trader Joe's Cookbook".  That's right, a cookbook.  That afternoon, I was lounging outside.  I was tired, my feet hurt and I was crampy, so I decided to kick back and read... my cookbook.  Yes, that's the kind of person I am.  I finished reading the book in less than an hour, at which point I had to restrain myself from rolling off the chaise lounge and waddling over to the car to go get the ingredients for one of the recipes that jumped out to me. 

As the sun started to set, it cooled down pretty quickly and David and I decided to continue the lounging inside, while watching The International with Clive Owen.  Little did we know that we would never see the end of the movie...

That Sunday afternoon was January 31, 2010 and this was me:

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An hour into the movie I got up to make some tea and grab a snack.  That's when my water broke and we were off to the hospital.  It looked like it would be a long wait before meeting our 2nd little boy, so, we continued the snacking.  Afterall, this was one of the last times that I could use "being pregnant" as an excuse for my cravings.


Maybe it was the milkshake, maybe it was the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes I had for dinner, but my little boy seemed to be of a different opinion than the doctors: not long after dinner he presented me with the opportunity to work off the calories that I had just happily consumed.  That night, on February 1, 2010 (02/01/2010) Ryder Willem was born and made us a family of 4.  He weighed 10 lbs. 11.3 oz. and measured 21.5".  (Yes, he was a big baby and no, I did not have a C-section.)

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And here we are: on January 31, 2011.  A year later.  It was a year with lots of interrupted sleep, a year in which I was "graced" with many more gray hairs, a year of milestones, of teeth, of crawling, of walking, of eating table food, but most importantly, it was a year of lots of giggles, joy, happiness and a heart that doubled (once again) in size.  Once again, I fell in love.  This time it was with a blond, blue eyed bruiser.  (It's cool, knowing that I can make both dark hair, brown eyed and blond hair, blue eyed children.)

We went from a sleepy, gassy, and yes, cranky 1-month old


to a happy, giggling, laid back 6-month old


to a mischievous, happy and flirty 1-year old.


And here we are, the day before his 1st birthday.  So much has happened and honestly, I am having a hard time believing that it's already been a year.  I miss the days that he would fall asleep in my arms, but I treasure the smiles, giggles and sheer delight he expresses when I hold my arms out and tell him to come to me from the other end of the hallway.  The excitement and joy in his eyes when he masters something new is absolutely beautiful and though I sometimes wish he still were a little baby, I am truly happy with the gorgeous and precious boy he's turning into.

On his 1st birthday, Ryder:
  • Weighs approx. 28 lbs.
  • Is 32 5/8"  (2ft. 8 5/8") tall 
  • Wears 24 Months clothes (although he fills out Kai's 3T shirts very nicely, see pic. above).
  • Sleeps from 8pm to 7am
  • Naps from 1-4pm
  • Has 6 teeth
  • Loves milk, yogurt and cheese
  • Loves walking and being outside
  • Is obsessed with anything that Kai is plays with.

Today, on January 31, I yet have to watch the end of The International.  However, it once again is a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles.  Opa and Oma are visiting again, but instead of reading a cook book, I actually baked.  Apple sauce cupcakes are cooling on the kitchen counter, the house smells wonderfully, and I am preparing for a small family celebration tomorrow.

Happy 1st Birthday, my Baby Boy!  I love you more than you will ever know.  Thank you for joining us, you truly are a blessing.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Science of Eating a Cupcake

According to Kai:

  1. Be very specific about the cupcake you want.  Preferably choose that one pastry with the most chemically enhanced colors (the more fluorescent, the better).  Announce your choice not only to your parents, but also to your Opa & Oma, who are patiently waiting their turn.  Heck, while you're at it, just announce your choice to everyone in the store; it betters your chances of getting the desired item of yummyness source of sugar overload.


  2. As you prepare to devour this heavenly creation, delivered to you by the Gods of Goodness, just FOCUS.  Focus on nothing more than the sensation and the amazing chemical reaction happening in your mouth as you take that first bite.  it's pretty darn sensational, you know.


  3. Once the first bite has been ingested and the sugar rush has been set into action, you continue with the best part: the frosting.  Those precious, fluorescent colors.  The part your parents dread the most.  (For oh-so-many reasons.)  Turning the cupcake constantly, you work your way through the frosting as if it were an ice cream cone you were deconstructing.  (Although, that would probably be an excellent combination with a cupcake...  Can you imagine: a cupcake and an ice cream cone at the same time.  Oh, how awesome would that be?)  Focus.  Do not get distracted.  It's the cupcake you're working on here.  It's a lot of work, but as with most things: persistence & tenacity are key.  (Mom calls the "tenacity" "stubbornness".  Really, what's the difference?)


  4. Well, and then the moment has arrived that the frosting is gone.  All gone.  Now what?  Oh well, just dive in!

And that, people, is the science of eating a cupcake.  According to Kai.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Silence Is Not Always Golden...

I am blessed with 2 children who nap.  And they do it well.  Most of the time.  Now that I think about it: I had a significant impact on that blessing.  Fairly quickly after Kai's arrival 3 years ago, I made sure to have a routine going.  It was one of my major focuses and it paid off.  From a young age on, he has been able to fall asleep by himself, sleep in his own bed and put himself back to sleep if he wakes up.  This past year there were certainly periods of time that he refused to nap, but the rule of "I don't care whether you sleep or not.  It's  quiet time and you spend it in your room", is still working.  These days he's napping like a champ, which gives Mommy 3 hours in the afternoon to get work around the house done. 
Once Ryder arrived, one of my goals was to get him to adapt the schedule that we were on as quickly as possible and that too worked.  These days both kids nap from 1-4pm and it's magic. 

As I mentioned, last year Kai went through a phase of not wanting to nap, but he happily entertained himself in his room.  Fine by me, though every day I was hoping that he would go back to napping, simply because he would be cranky a terror, during that last part of the day before bed time.

And then it happened...  It was one beautiful October afternoon: the first afternoon of silence.  Oh, how magical that was.  Someone was answering my prayers.  At least...that's what I was allowed to believe for 3 hours.  Then...4pm came around and like clockwork, the door opened and there he stood.  Triumphantly.  With a big grin on his face:


My heart skipped a beat as I took a closer look:



As I became terrified of what else had been decorated, I at the same time had the hardest time not to burst out laughing.  My precious, happy bubble had been burst with a triumphant "TaDaaa!" and I realized that we were a loooong way out from napping again.  At the same time a voice in the back of my head started the interrogation on why I had been so ignorant to not put the markers away.  Sigh.

I gathered up all the courage that had been scattered into hardly detectable, tiny pieces, took a VERY DEEP breath and entered the Lion's Den (aka Kai's domain).  And there it was, his bed:


And the floor:


[Sigh] [Another sigh] [Count to 10] [Try not to laugh]

This was the moment.  The moment to test if the "Washable" in "Washable Markers" really meant It-Comes-Out "Washable".

Well, it certainly came off my toddler:


And yes, it came off the floor, off the bed, and out of the sheets.

It took a bit longer before my precious, happy bubble got restored, but it eventually did and these days we are yet again blessed with good naps and happy children.

Long may this continue.


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's 2011!

So, where was I?  Oh, that’s right...September 30th...oops.  Is it really 2011 already?  What happened? Oh yeah, I remember...I enjoyed my life.  That is not to say that I don’t enjoy writing.  Believe you me, in the past 3 months the desire to pick up pen and paper, uhum, start typing, has manifested itself pretty much daily.  Why haven’t I?  Let’s see...

There is work (and all that that entails: grading speeches, reading, plowing & suffering through outlines that are written in English that sometimes can hardly be called ‘English’, listening to excuses that really aren’t creative and so on).  I will leave it at that.

The boys are absolutely delicious.

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I cannot get enough of them and I absolutely love love love every minute with them.  (Except when they are whiny, demanding and don't let me cook).

6 days after I last wrote, on October 5, Ryder started crawling.  My life as I knew it was over.  Bye bye to plopping him down with a toy and being able to go make some tea.  No, nothing of that anymore.  Mr. The Explorer went everywhere and was in to everything.  Especially into those things that Kai is playing with.  And vice versa.  Need I explain?  With Ryder’s ability to crawl, brotherly rivalry had started as well.

My parents came out from Europe for a month to celebrate their 35th anniversary.  We went to San Diego and had some family time.  Visited Sea World, the Wild Animal Park, the harbor, and in short: had tons of fun.  Seeing Opa & Oma enjoy the boys was such treat.  With them in living in Europe and us living here in SoCal they really only get to see them twice a year, when they visit.  It was the first time they saw Ryder after their visit in February when he was born.  They had some time to bond and of course, Kai LOVED having Opa and Oma around.  He has been asking about them practically every day after they left; very sweet, but sad at the same time.  The little man just doesn’t understand why he cannot see them, just like he goes over to our friends’ places to go spend time with them.  Yes, we Skype, but his attention span isn’t long in front of the computer.  It’s about connection for him.  If the connection isn’t there it isn’t “real”.  Though he understands Dutch, he doesn’t speak it much, so he can’t connect through the computer.

And then...(drum roll please)...what seemed like the impossible, happened...Kai is potty trained!  The day that we were at the Wild Animal Park in San Diego, he decided that it was of the utmost importance to share with every one (including those who didn’t want to hear about this) that, if “Kai sit on the potty, he get MMS” – which translates to M&M’S.  Seriously.  Every.Single.Person.  So, when we got home, I asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty.  And the rest is history.  He was potty trained 3 days later, although it took me a bit longer to be convinced.  He has only had 3 accidents since the beginning of the training.  Did pretty much everything by himself.  It was awesome.  I guess they were right (whoever ‘they’ might be) when they said “he will do it when he’s ready”.

On another note, on October 27, I became a US citizen with about 5,000 other people in the same room.  Yes, that’s right: 5,000.  Oh yeah,’s a monthly event.  Seriously, no kiddin’!  Anyways, after having had my green card since we got married, I finally applied for my US citizenship, so now I am the proud owner of 2 passports.  Dual citizenship.  Pretty cool huh?

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Then there was Halloween.  Ah, the beloved holiday in our neighborhood.  When we moved in, the house was a heavy fixer-upper.  And read: HEAVY.  We fixed most of it up, except the front yard.  It just hasn’t been a priority, but it does allow us every year to go all out with Halloween and turn our front yard into a haunted cemetery / maze / heart stopper / scream inducer.  And oh, what fun it is!!  Every year we have a group of friends who come and help out and every year we do something different.  The thing that remains the same is the idea of the maze and the fact that you’ll be scared crazy.  Wonderful.  People come from other neighborhoods to trick-or-treat in our street, just for that.  But hey, no pressure to make it fun again :-0 

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It was wonderful.  Let’s just say that we had people rolling over the sidewalk laughing (resulting from being scared), others lost their wigs as they practically jumped out of their skin, screams echoed through the neighborhood.  Fun times.  Fun times.


Before we started our haunted ‘house’, we took Kai (and Ryder) trick-or-treating.  For the first year, he really enjoyed it, however the fun was short-lived;  a few days into November, he had forgotten all about his candy.  I think I still have his basket with candy in the closet here.

A few days after Halloween, my friend had her beautiful baby girl Haven.  She is absolutely precious.  Sweet and tiny and perfect.  It seriously makes me want to have another baby, though I swear that Mother Nature makes you forget the sleepless nights, or at least how they felt, and the fatigue exhaustion.

At the beginning of November David and I were invited to a wedding of our neighbors’ daughter.  I don’t remember when the last time was that he and I went out on a date together, let alone, when we were able to dress up.  Wait, yes, the last time I wore an evening gown was for the wedding of our neighbors’ other daughter, 2 years ago.  2 years ago...I do have a life you know.  Just not one that involves dressing up much.  Nevertheless, it was great to go out, all dolled up and pretty. 

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We had so much fun.  I’d almost say “they have to get married more often.”  Wait, that sounds wrong.

Kai started his co-op preschool class.  With a group of mommy friends we have started a co-op preschool.  Awesome!  One morning a week, the kids have class from 10-12.  It’s great.  Every class has the same structure, but around a different theme.  A class is taught by 1 mom, 1 direct assistant and 2 moms are around to wrangle, clean up and help out where ever needed.  Kai absolutely loves it.  He is so proud of all the art that he brings home and every time he sees it hanging on the fridge he announces that it is something he made with his friends at school.

I hardly dare to write this (as I fear I may jinx it), but it truly seems like Kai has left the terrible two’s behind him.  Now that he is better able to communicate he seems so much more relaxed.  Maybe his mood and state of being is affected by me being more relaxed, but I am certainly more relaxed because he is in so much better spirits.  He is loving, gives hugs and kisses spontaneously, gets really excited about things, loves having conversations, is a lot more inquisitive , shares his toys better, is more accepting towards Ryder, has fewer tantrums (don’t remember the last time he had one), helps out a lot, and I can go on.  It’s almost like I have a new toddler.  And I am LOVING it.  The simple “Good Morning MOMMY!!!!!” when he wakes up and comes running in to give me a big hug and kiss in the morning is just heart warming and it made up for the fact that Ryder was getting up at 5am.  Yes, 5am. Pretty much every single day.  That was one of those details that wasn’t working out so well for mama.

Leading up to Christmas, Kai and I were busy with Holiday arts & crafts projects.  It was so much fun and we both LOVED doing it.  It was definitely the beginning of some serious family traditions and childhood memories.  One night, after Ryder went down, I asked him if he wanted to make the gift for his god-daddy that we had been talking about.  “YES Mommy, YES!  Let’s DO IT!!!  Kai make a present for god-daddy Michael!”  We had a blast.  I stripped him down to his T-shirt and underwear and half an hour of laugher later, the present was done, he was covered in paint, and ready to get into the bath.  Snuggles, milk and a story followed and that was our evening.  A precious memory was created.

Ryder is doing great.  He cut his 3rd and 4th teeth a couple of weeks before Christmas.  He started crawling on October 5, 4 days after he turned 8 months, walked behind his shopping cart on Thanksgiving morning and started walking for real on December 16, at 10 1/2 months.

He is absolutely loving it and is motoring through the home like there is no stopping.  The fascinating thing is that after he started walking, he started sleeping better.  Coincidence?  Hmmm...  In pretty much everything, Kai is his example and he (Ryder) is hard at work catching up with the 2 years that he lacks behind.  He is loving his solids.  When Kai was his age, I made organic home made baby food.  Everything home made, as organic as it came.  With Ryder, I simply do not have to energy to do that, so at 9 months I decided it was time for him to start eating table foods.  I was sick and tired of spending small fortunes on jarred baby food that smelled (and tasted) like card board.  So, he’s eating table foods with us.  Occasionally I will puree things, but most of the time, I just give him small pieces to feed himself.  He loves broccoli, cauliflower, meat balls, chicken, fish, cheese, yogurt and pasta.  Fruits are winners as well and Mama cannot be happier.

Just to get an idea of the size of this boy, at 9 months (that was in November) Ryder:

  • weighed 25.5 lbs.
  • measured 31"
  • wore size 5 diaper
  • wore size 18 month clothes
Yep, I make big babies, and oh my goodness are they cute.

In December we often went out for walks around the neighborhood.  The leaves had turned beautiful colors and after the rain we had one weekend, they had started falling.  We live on a street with deciduous trees, but unfortunately we don’t have any in our yard.  They start next door.  One of our neighbors across the street had been so sweet to rake all the leaves together in 1 big pile.  1 big pile that was waiting for an almost-3-year-old toddler.  1 big pile that lent itself PERFECTLY for some good Fall fun.
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When Ryder was 9 months old he signed for the first time.  He is seriously suffering from the 2nd-child-syndrome; I started signing with Kai right out the gate, I only recently started it with Ryder, not even being very consistent.  After only a few times of signing ‘All Done”, imagine my surprise tonight when this happened:

I wasn’t sure if this was waving or signing, but given his response to the food, I think he was trying to make a point.  Pretty cool huh?  Ryder is just an amazing little man.  He is such a happy and content baby. 

I am just enjoying my boys so much.  They are a delight and I just want to spend every minute that I can with them.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a break some times, but even after 2 hours of me-time, I cannot wait to return home, see those big smiles and twinkly eyes and give those boys the biggest hug and smother them with kisses.  These days, when they are awake, I spend my time with them.  The other work has to wait until they are asleep, resulting in just less time to do the other things that I would enjoy doing, such as reading, watching TV, or...writing.  Nevertheless, this year I am making some changes.  While still spending as much time with my 2 monkeys, I am planning on setting aside 1 evening per week to write, 1 evening to read, 1 evening to spend on arts and crafts projects / hobbies and 1 evening for date night with the hubby.  Yes, that leaves me 3 other nights, which I am sure, I will be able to fill in without any problems.

Christmas was a great day.  We spent the day relaxing, being a family and it was AWESOME.  The kids took pretty much the whole day to open their gifts: they would open one, play with it for an hour, then open another one and play with that for a while. 

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We actually ended up opening the stocking gifts on New Year’s Day!  How’s that for some stretching?!?!  David and I watched our traditional “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Every Christmas we watch this.  Every Christmas it gets to us.  Such a beautiful movie, such a heartwarming story.  Truly inspiring.  New Year’s Eve was spent with neighbors and friends playing games, laughing, eating and drinking.  Can’t be much better than that, can it?

The New Year has started and it feels like I’m starting with a clean slate.  It’s a great feeling.  I feel energized, motivated, enthusiastic and happy and I’m excited and looking forward to making this year an amazing year.  So many new experiences await us, so many memories are going to be made.  The mere thought if that is inspiring and exhilarating.  May 2011 truly be everyone’s Best Year Yet! 


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