Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Wrap-up

I recently saw this on another blog and thought that it was a funny way to wrap up the year.

Gained or lost weight?
Actually it stayed the same. It is the same since I lost all the weight I gained from my pregnancy with Sunny and now I weigh 10 kg less than before my pregnancy.

Predominant feeling in 2012?
Excitement over that talker thing and nervousness as to whether it would be granted

Predominant feeling for 2013?
Joyful anticipation

Something you did for the first time in 2012?
Start my own blog ;-)

Something you did again in 2012 after a long pause?
Handling all those pre-digital pictures that still need to be put into photo albums! I still have two shelves in my closet full of prints and I finally need that space for other things!

Something you unfortunately did not do in 2012?
Swim in the ocean and oh, how sad I am about that!

Word of the year?

City of the year?

Hair longer or shorter?
It stayed more or less the same with minor changes now and then, depending on when my latest visit to the hairdresser was ;-)

More or less money spent?
Frankly speaking, I don't want to know 8-)

Highest mobile phone bill?
42 Euro / 55 USD

Hospital stays?
Unfortunately, I had to accompany Sunny three times to the hospital in 2012, each time for several days :-/

(Fallen) In love?
Still in love with my beautiful boy (always!) and my husband (most of the time ;-) )!
Oh yeah, and still in love with the car I bought in 2011 ;-)

Most called person?
My husband and my parents

Whom did you spend the most beautiful time with?
The friend I visited this summer together with Sunny that I lost contact to more than ten years ago. Last year we found each other on Facebook and this year we finally managed to meet again! It was such a wonderful weekend!

What did you spend most of your time with?
Doing the laundry, picking up toys from the floor, going to therapies and appointments with Sunny, Internet

Song of the year?
"I follow Rivers" by Triggerfinger

Book of the year?
-- (This needs to change!)

TV show/movie of the year?
"Seven Pounds" with Will Smith (I know the movie is much older but I finally saw it this summer for the first time and was really touched by it)

Insight of the year?
Sunny finally needs a tool to help him share his thoughts and feelings with us (and anyone else!) and if I don't take charge of that, nobody will!

Three things you totally could have done without?
Sunny's hospital stays
The annual tax declaration
All those dreadful household tasks I hate

Most beautiful event?
A sailing trip with Sunny, my sister, and her family

More short-sighted or more far-sighted than 2011? 
Actually, my short-sightedness improved a bit this year, whereas Sunny's far-sightedness significantly worsened (maybe also due to the fact that he is older now and that his eyes can be measured better now)

The most dangerous thing you did?
-- (Still thinking about that one but I guess my life is just plain boring)

The most expensive thing you bought?
There was nothing I bought this year that was expensive enough to still remember 

The most delicious meal or food you ate?
Sorry, but I LOVE eating, I cannot choose anything particular! :-)

The best party?
The nativity play when Sunny was an angel <3

The most important thing you wanted to convince somebody of?
Our paediatrician that Sunny needs a talker!

The most beautiful present you gave to somebody?
Some weeks ago the cat of Sunny's hippo therapist got lost in the forest while accompanying us on one of our therapy sessions. The therapist had other sessions immediately after ours and, therefore, could not go back and look for the cat herself. It already started to dawn when I drove home so I dropped Sunny off at home, returned to the forest and searched for the cat. 45 minutes later, at the very end of the path we had taken I finally found it. The therapist almost cried when I brought her the cat because she had been so worried.

The most beautiful present that somebody gave you?
The grant for Sunny's talker, fully paid for by our insurance company!

The most beautiful sentence someone said to you?
Sunny's first two word sentence in sign language

The most beautiful sentence you said to someone? 
"The insurance company just called, our talker is granted!!" 

How will you celebrate New Year's Eve?
We will stay at home and celebrate with my mother-in-law.

What will you have for dinner?
(from wikipedia, where you can also see a picture of it: A modern way of serving raclette involves an electric table-top grill with small pans, known as coupelles, to heat slices of raclette cheese in. Generally the grill is surmounted by a hot plate or griddle. The cheese is brought to the table sliced, accompanied by platters of boiled or steamed potatoes, other vegetables and charcuterie. These are then mixed with potatoes and topped with cheese in the small, wedge-shaped coupelles that are placed under the grill to melt and brown the cheese. Alternatively, slices of cheese may be melted and simply poured over food on the plate. The accent in raclette dining is on relaxed and sociable eating and drinking, the meal often running to several hours. French and other European supermarkets generally stock both the grill apparatus and ready-sliced cheese and charcuterie selections, especially around Christmas. Restaurants also provide raclette evenings for parties of diners.)

What drinks will be in your glasses to clink?
I guess we will treat ourselves with Champagne.

Will you ignite any fireworks?
There are some left of those we bought last year so we will send them off before Sunny goes to bed.

What are you going to wear? Comfy or glamourous?

Did you have any resolutions for 2012? And how about 2013?
As already mentioned, I do not really make any resolutions lists.
What I am hoping to do or achieve, though, can be found here:
- Taking better care of myself
- Read more
- Apply for Mother-Child Convalescent Care
- Becoming more uncluttered and organised

What are your wishes for the new year?
That Sunny finally starts talking more and more! And if not, that he learns to use the talker quickly to let us know what is going on in his cute little head!
That all my loved ones stay healthy.
No hospital stays!

In one word: 2012 was...
... well-balanced.

Do you want to join me? Do your own 2012 Wrap-up! I would so love to read it! :-)

Wear Sunscreen

I just read an old post over at Finding Ninee and a song immediately came to my mind that I wanted to share. I often think of it and how many truths are in the lyrics. You probably all know it, but I wanted to share it nevertheless.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Off to a New Year

As the year is slowly coming to a close I thought about what I would like to do or change next year. You know, these New Year's resolutions you really believe you can handle and after three days they are completely forgotten? Actually, I stopped thinking about those. There is no point in doing that. However, there surely are some small things that I am going to tackle.

The most important thing I need to address is to take better care of myself. Whereas I am not treating myself badly, I would really like to be more thoughtful with what is good for me and act appropriately. Having this in mind I really plan on having my preventing medical checkups done in time next year. This year, I missed one for skin cancer prevention (which is quite important since I had a basal cell carcinoma when I was a teenager), one at my gynaecologist for breast and cervical cancer prevention and one at the dentist for my bi-annual checkup. It is not that I am lazy or not taking it seriously enough but I have so many appointments with Sunny that I often lose sight of my own checkups and appointments. But it scares the hell out of me to think of Sunny having to grow up without me so I better start being good to myself again. 

I hope I will also find the time to read more next year. I love reading but I only find the time for it when Sunny is in bed. However, by that time I am so drained of the day that I just want to relax in front of the TV without doing anything tiring - like reading. I hope I can change that next year as I have some books here waiting to be read. 

I am also planning on doing a so-called Mother-Child Convalescent Care with Sunny next year. It is something pretty common here and it is paid for by our health insurance. It does not have anything to do with treating an acute breakdown or anything but it is more like some kind of health prevention for mother and child. And I think it would be very good and beneficial for both of us. 

Something that is on my list every day of every year is becoming more uncluttered. I love it when everything is clean and tidy but it looks messy again in no time (why does cleaning up take so much longer??) and I just cannot figure out how to keep it tidy in our home and that just sucks. Any suggestions on how to get more organised are more than welcome!   

One very important thing I am really looking forward to is Sunny getting his first talker!! I was informed shortly before Christmas that it will be delivered to us as soon as the Holiday season is over (which is after January 6) and I cannot WAIT for him to finally get it! When I recently told him while we had dinner that he would get a talker in January he eagerly typed with his index finger on the table leaf of our dining room table as if he would use a talker! So I guess (I hope!) this this is going to really be good!!

Do you have any plans/resolutions/projects to tackle for 2013? Please tell me about them!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Our Christmas, Sunny style - revisited

Remember this post? Now that the Christmas celebrations are over, I thought about what was different this year and what stayed the same.

Presents: He got some more presents this year and he absolutely loved them! However, I had the impression that he was already overwhelmed by the five presents he got this year. So I guess this is where our limit should be. But he played very nicely with the two presents I knew he would love the most on Christmas Eve and I am so glad we chose them so perfectly (it was a Playmobil helicopter since he is very interested in them recently and the ball path he already knew from our SLP).
What really excited me was that he unwrapped (aka ripped open) his presents almost all by himself. That was the first time ever he did that and I enjoyed it so much!

Christmas tree: There was no change here, he is not interested in the tree at all. We decorated the tree together and he liked the Christmas tree balls and wanted to take them down after I hung them up to take a closer look at them but that was about it. However, when we talk about Christmas he always points to the tree so at least he knows that it has something to do with Christmas. That is some kind of progress.

Christmas music: We have a music CD here for children with music especially for this time of year. We have had it for, I think, three years now. This year was the first time he actually listened to it. What is even more exciting is that he is actually actively listening to the texts (while doing something else like looking at a book, eating, hearing me speak, ...!) as he accompanies them with his hand signs. This is huge! I know that his receptive language is far better than his expressive language but that he listens to the texts of a music CD - wow! I was so astonished when I realised that.
As an extra bonus there are some songs on the CD that make him extra cuddly. He always asks me to play them and when I do, he wants me to take him in my arms, then he hugs me extra tightly and wants me to rock him to the music. Awww, that melts my heart since he normally is not snuggly at all! And of couse I take the chance and slow dance with him the whole day!

Baking cookies together: He was interested in helping a bit more compared to last year but not for too long. But it was some kind of tiny progress, too.

Christmas Eve: I think he got the idea that it was a special evening. My parents and mother-in-law came to visit us and it was unfamiliar for him to have so many people around the table for dinner. He was happily visiting every one of us at his or her seat and to have his grandmas around.

All in all this Christmas was really nice. I am glad that I do not have any expectations anymore with regard to what Christmas should be like. Some things work, some do not, and I am just fine with that. We will try again next year.

This is what they crafted this year in kindergarten for Christmas. It looks beautifully at the window!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Beautiful Blogger: My first award

It has taken me too much time now to get my post ready about this. I could not come up with anything after the Sandy Hook massacre because it seemed so mundane and my brain was all empty. Then Christmas was just around the corner... But now I finally want to show my gratitude for the award and I would also like to pass it on and, therefore, here is my post.

Yeah right, I was really given an award!! How flippin' awesome is that?! Well, you can surely imagine that I was sniffling quite a bit when I read about it! So, here we are again, me and my tear ducts ;-) First of all I want to sincerely thank Kristi from Finding Ninee that she thought I deserved this award. I am so humbled, happy, and surprised. My blog is still quite new and I never would have thought that anyone would give me an award so soon! I am so happy that we met online. I love her blog. It is very funny, sometimes pensive, and full of her own art which I absolutely dig! You really rock, sister! xoxo

The Beautiful Blogger Award is given from one blogger to another as “a simple way to boost a blogger’s traffic, recognize a fellow writer, and celebrate someone else’s accomplishments.” The rules state that recipients post the award on their sites, list seven things about themselves, mention seven bloggers and then pass the award on.

So, here we go: seven things about me:

1) I have already seen "Dirty Dancing" a gazillion times and I am not going to stop. ;-)

2) I don't like coffee. I don't like the taste, I don't like the smell. I tried every possible combination: black, with sugar, with milk, with sugar and milk... nada. I don't like it. I don't even like chocolate with a hint of coffee in it.

3) I have only owned black or white cars in my life so far. My first car was white, the next one black, then white again, then black, black again and my current car is - yeah, you guessed it! - white.

4) Spring is my favourite time of the year. After all of these long, grey, dark, cold, and unpleasant months of winter, my eyes long for the new green and the flowers and my ears are happy to hear the birds singing again. I love the smell of spring. The temperatures are just as I like them most: not too cold, not too hot.

5) My favourite cocktail is a Cosmopolitan and, without exaggeration, the one I make is the best!

6) I am a bad housewife. I hate doing laundry, washing the windows, or ironing.

7) My most favourite song of all times is "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley. I love this hint of sentimentality that is hidden in it. It sounds like a chilly day at the beach at the end of summer with autumn just around the corner. That may sound weird, but it is exactly what I feel when I hear it.


Now on to the next part: Seven blogs I really love due to various reasons, not in any particular order. While I have been a long-time reader to some of them (*), there are others that I just recently discovered (**). If you want to know why they rock, go check them out yourself:

Five Kids Is A Lot of Kids (*)
Reinventing Mommy (**)
a diary of a mom (**)
Team Aidan (*)
The Flight Of Our Hummingbird (*)
Along Came The Bird (*)
Simple. I Just Do. (**)

You can find more great blogs by awesome bloggers in my blog roll!

And now - drumrolls, please! The Beautiful Blogger Award goes to Alicia from lost in holland.! I have been reading her blog (formerly known as "Welcome To My Planet") for a very long time now and I feel so connected to her. Her blog is the perfect mixture of normal to crazy to funny to sad to emotional! She's juggling her life with four children with grace, humour, and wit. Take your time to find out more about her.

Wow, I finally put this post together! It took me like forever! So glad I finally did it!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Beautiful encounter

It is still early in the morning. I realise that I forgot a few small things when I went grocery shopping yesterday. So I decide to head to town directly after breakfast, alone, before the parking lots are crowded and the town is full of people, all being unrelaxed and bustling around.

I park the car a bit outside the town centre and decide to walk. The rain has stopped. The air is cool, but not cold. It feels good to move.

A few people are already on the streets, too. As I walk down the road and approach a roundabout, I look to my left and see a man crossing the street, walking in my direction. He sees me and looks me in the eyes, then flashes me a huge smile. He waves enthusiastically at me. I wave back. I wonder if we know each other but after a short moment of digging around in my brain for his face I realise that I have never seen him before. Our paths cross and we meet. I notice that he has an intellectual disability. For a brief second I wonder why he is so happy to see me, if he knows that we are on the same team, that I have a special needs child. I wonder if his fine antennas sense it. He beams at me, reaches in his pocket and gives me a piece of candy. Then he hugs me tightly and although he is a stranger it does not feel awkward at all, just a bit surprising. We commence our walk together and he opens his shopping bag and proudly shows me the content. It is full of DVDs. I ask him "Wow, what do you have in there?" and he answers "Movies!" and seems so proud. I say "That's great!". We cross the road together, right next to each other, as if we belong together. He looks content and happy. On the other side of the road I have to turn left, he has to turn right. We both say goodbye and then we both part ways, each of us walking the roads of our own lives again.

But for a short moment in time our paths crossed and we walked a bit of the way together and that hearty encounter leaves me doing my shopping and driving home to my beloved Sunny with a warm feeling in my stomach and a smile on my lips.

This was my Christmas moment 2012!

☆*……….*….*……..* ☆*…

Whoever you are, wherever you are: Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Short interim report

I am happy to inform you that, so far, the world still exists. The day is already half over and neither aliens nor Mayans have landed. No mysterious planet crossed the earth's path, no asteroids or meteors came down and I have not experienced anything else so far that was not normal. I did experience a lot of people running errands around town but we are heading into the Christmal holidays and, therefore, their behaviour is absolutely normal. I am pretty relaxed about the second half of the day. ;-)

Update at 20:32: All is quiet and normal here (well, as normal as it is in our home! ;-) ) and I am not expecting anything else for the rest of the day. What I really loved, however, was this blog post. If this were the end of the world as we know it and the outcome were the one that is described here: paradise! We should all strive to get there!
In the last few days I found myself being more tolerant and patient, e.g. when I drive around in my car and start becoming angry about another driver I tell myself that s/he might have had a hard day, maybe has a lot of problems or anything else and I start to relax. I am on my way there, too!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

A bit of joy and hope

Today was all christmasy in our house.

In the morning the husband, Sunny and I went to a Christmas market we had never been to before (and will never visit again, that is for sure, because it was a total fail ;-) ). The weather was dry for the first day since I don't know when so we had a nice walk around the little town and in the park nearby.

The highlight of my day, however, happened in the evening. Sunny had his very first performance since he attends kindergarten. Today was the annual (pre-) Christmas worship of the school and kindergarten that Sunny attends. And he, my precious boy, was one of the angels in the nativity play. And I have to say he was the most beautiful angel ever seen in a nativity play! My heart swelled and I was so full of joy when I saw him!

After the play the intercessions were read and when the pastor prayed for those who lost loved ones this year I was instantly thinking of the grieving people of Newtown and I was so sad for them and said a prayer.

To attend the service, however, felt so good. I don't go to church very often but today I felt somehow lifted. I had to choke back tears while singing the songs but, as I already told you, I am a crier. So, nothing new here. It was so wonderful to see how the little ones loved to play their roles and how proud they were when they were applauded for it at the end. It felt good and joyous and full of hope for the good things in our world.

Monday, 17 December 2012

A day of silence

There will be a blogger's day of silence on December 18, 2012 in memory of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and I am participating in it, too.

May we never forget the names of these beautiful, little angels and of the adults trying to protect them.

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Olivia Engel, 6
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Chase Kowalski, 7
Grace McDonnell, 7
Victoria Soto, 27
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Dawn Hochsprung, 47
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Mary Sherlach, 56

It is difficult to move on

I had a sad and reflective weekend. I read a lot of things about the horrible events of Newtown and tried to get a picture of it all.

I also read a lot of blog posts about it, many opinions and points of view. Of course, the question "why?" kept spinning in my head, as in everyone else's. For me it is difficult to get a clear picture. This is due to the fact that there might have been mental illness involved, the term "autism spectrum" was thoughtlessly thrown around. Our coverage here did not mention any of this so I have tried to gather more information. What I found so far, however, were only speculations about the shooter's health status. I am also not familiar with the way people with mental illness are treated or medicated in the US and I read that the budgets for these cases have been cut down drastically and that the two largest mental health care facilities in the United States are located in prisons. Gun control also seems to be another part of the problem. All of this is nothing I have good and reliable information about, therefore there is really not much I can say about it as I do not want to draw any wrong conclusions because I am lacking a lot of background information.

However, I found a blog post that I wanted to share with you. I cannot imagine how hard and horrific it must be for a mother to witness something like this and how helpless she must feel. And I hope that she will receive the help she needs.

I also want to share this blog post and this one. They are very well written and very thought-provoking.

My heart still hurts for all these lives ripped away in a senseless act of violence. I cannot stop thinking about the pain the parents of these babies are going through, or the relatives of the adults that were killed. I wish them strength to bear this.

It also got me thinking about the safety level in our schools and kindergartens. For example, the school/kindergarten that Sunny attends is free for everyone to enter. It is not locked and everyone can step inside at any time. Our schools normally are all open and unlocked. This leaves me with an unwell feeling, I must admit.

Although incidents like the Newtown shooting (fortunately!) do not happen here very often, they do happen. There was one at a school on April 26, 2002 where 17 persons - teachers, pupils, a policeman and a secretary - were killed. The other one happend at another school on March 11, 2009 where 15 persons were shot. The father of the killer (he was 17) is on trial at the moment for the second time because he is accused of not having locked away the weapons used for the shooting properly. He was allowed to keep weapons at home because he is a target shooter. In both cases the murderers killed themselves after they wreaked havoc. We are still in shock about these shootings and every time a gun rampage happens again we are reminded of all the innocent lives that were ripped away whenever this happens. We are in dismay and deep grief with you as a nation.

I hope this all makes sense, it is hard for me to express my thoughts and feelings in a foreign language today. 

On a more positive note, I also wanted to share a link with you about 26 moments that restored our faith in humanity this year. It is good to see good things happening in the world and they made me smile, although I still have a heavy heart.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


It was only yesterday that I wrote about empathy, kindness, and love.

In the evening I went to attend a private dinner party at one of my friends. On my way there I heard about what had happened in Connecticut on the radio and was shocked. My friend had turned on the TV and watched CNN. We were all glued to the TV, shocked, in dismay. My heart could not believe what my eyes saw, what my ears heard. We eventually had dinner together, but the atmosphere war sad.

As I returned home late at night I heard Sunny cry, so I went in his room to check on him. I scooped him up and comforted him, rocked him, stroked his hair and kissed him. I thought of all the innocent children who were robbed of their lives. Children the same age that Sunny is. I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that anyone would do this to innocent children, to kindergarteners. It's unthinkable.

My heart is heavy today and it breaks for all the families and friends of families that are affected. There are no words. I am deeply sorry for your loss. I lit a candle this morning for all the victims. I don't know what to say. This makes me speechless. My thoughts and prayers are with you, as parents, friends, or relatives who grieve the loss of a beloved member of the family, and as a nation.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Will my hormone level ever be normal again? ;-)

Some years ago, Sunny made me a mama. And since then I have turned into a total wimp. I start crying over everything. Well, almost everything. Sometimes I wonder if it is still my hormone level that is messed up or if becoming a mama has made me super sensitive.That does not mean I was cold and stone-hearted before but since Sunny is here my sensitivity is on a higher level than before.

When I want to sing along with "Do they know it's Christmas" I have to stop because my throat tightens. Or when I sing certain songs to Sunny whose texts deeply move me (just because they are e.g. about having a wonderful childhood) I have to stop very often because my eyes well up with tears (but not because I think Sunny's childhood is not good, more because I am grateful that my son is so wonderful. It is hard to explain.). When I read blog posts that touch me I sit in front of the computer and tears stream down my face although I do not even know the person who wrote it personally. When I witness that people are being kind to other people or help them in any way I start sniffling. A video on facebook about random acts of kindness? Pouty, trembling lip. That phone call just recently with our insurance company where we were told great news? I cried happy tears (although I was embarrassed for crying like that on the phone but I just could not stop because I was so thankful and the lady was so kind and understanding and nice). 

I can watch sad movies, however, without shedding a tear. No, it is the real things in real life that matter to me. Generally speaking, what gets to me the most is when I feel empathy in others. This is why I cry when I hear that song of Band Aid because I think of the reasons that led to the recording of this song and my heart feels heavy but good knowing that there are people out there who care for others. That the world is not only hatred and war and mistrust and maliciousness but also full of kindness, support, caring, empathy, love, and helpfulness. That there are people who care about other people and do not just go about their business. Sometimes when you watch the news it is easy to forget this trait of humankind. And when I witness something empathic I am moved to tears.

Maybe becoming a mama, more so a mama of a child with special needs, has made me more sensitive. Maybe it is because I appreciate everything much more than before. Having a healthy child. Being healthy myself. Being privileged to live in a safe house, having enough food, heating, warm water. Witnessing my son to grow up and being excited about how far he has already come: he can breathe, eat, drink, sit, walk, communicate (in his own way), and do many more things. None of these things are self-evident.

So, I guess in the end everything is fine with my hormone level and being sensitive is nothing negative (although, I must admit, I still have to get used to it). It might sometimes be embarrassing to cry because of stuff others do not comprehend but this is who I am and I'd rather be sensitive and empathic than heartless and uncaring.

Oh, and check out this cute little video! I love it! I makes my heart skip a beat!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Zeitgeist 2012 - The Google year in review

I just found a video that I wanted to share. I think it perfectly represents most of the stuff that has moved, touched, annoyed, excited, and anything else a human being can feel, this last year. As I watched it I thought "oh yeah, right, this happened... oh, yes, I also remember that.... right, this moved me, too....". I think it is worth watching.

For me the space jump of Felix Baumgartner clearly was one of the most amazing things to witness this year. I can still remember the feeling of "wow, this is actually happening exactly in THIS second as I sit in front of the TV!!" since we saw it happening live. That was really breathtaking!

This was the live footage I saw on TV

Holiday gifts for Team Sunny

I like to treat others. Therefore, every year I sincerely thank all the people who care for Sunny. Currently that includes our paediatrician, our PT, our SLP, the kindergarten teachers, our hippo therapist and our osteopath. They all get a box of really good chocolates from me along with a Christmas card including personal notes on what I appreciated most over the last year and how I look forward to working with them again in the year to come (you know what I mean, of course I would rather be without any therapist in Sunny's life at all...). Our two former SLPs both get a Christmas card as well.

Photo credits

I would actually prefer to present Team Sunny something home-made but, frankly speaking, I am neither very creative nor do I like to bake or craft (oops, I just confessed it!). So, I guess the chocolates are a very good alternative and everyone likes them (at least that is what they tell me ;-) ).

Here are some more ideas on holiday gifts for Christmas.
Edit: I found another post with good ideas here! And I like this one, too! And this one!
Edit: Jeanie from Reinventing Mommy just recently posted some very nice ideas to her facebook wall and permitted me to use the screenshots here: 

Do your team members get holiday gifts from you? If yes, what is it? Please let me know! Maybe it is something nice and as well easy enough for me to prepare for next Christmas!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Holding on and letting go

A long day is over, I had a cup of hot spiced wine, wrapped up some presents, and my thoughts went rolling....

Some days ago I read this post of Alicia. It made me cry when I read it. I literally felt how Pink touched her face and what she felt in that exact moment she describes. Her post is so bittersweet, I love it.

They say that as soon as a baby is born we are in the process of letting go. For me this is only partly true. When I read that post I just felt sad and sorry somehow because Alicia described her feelings so well and I could totally relate. Now, after a few days when it all sunk in I start to wonder if I will ever experience a moment like this. If Sunny will ever be able to tell me or show me how much he loves me. If he will ever attend a birthday party like that, without me. I would give anything to experience a moment like this, no matter how hard it might be in that moment to see how much he has grown and how he is getting more and more independent of me.

But as I thought about it I came to realise that I am also in a process of holding on and letting go. It only involves other things than usual. I am in the process of holding on to my hope that one day he will be able to do all the things that typical kids of his age can do. And at the same time I know that I might have to be letting go of these thoughts gradually. I will never give up hope and I know he will not stop to impress me with the progress he will be making in the future. I just have to find a balance between holding on and letting go.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The snuggly side of sickness

Sunny is ill. Again. For the fourth time now since the end of September. He is very prone to infections so as soon as autumn is around the corner he gets sick very often.

Sunny has some issues with social interactions. He does not really like to cuddle or to get cuddled. He bears it for one or two seconds and then he escapes. He avoids eye contact whenever possible. When he gets hurt he does not want to be comforted. However, these are all things that I long for and sometimes it breaks my heart that he does not let me be the mom I want to be. That I am not allowed to follow my instincts and get the chance to be there for him when his knee hurts because he fell or that I cannot snuggle him more than a second and show him how much I love him. That he does not like to look at me.

When he was a newborn baby he only slept on my tummy at night for months on end. But as he got older we noticed that he preferred to sleep by himself more and more and that falling asleep became easier for him when he was alone and not surrounded by my husband or me. Today it is almost impossible to sleep with him in one bed as he immediately feels that it is time to play when I take him to my bed - no matter what time it is - and then sleep is the thing he is the least interested in. But as much as some parents want their kids out of their bed to finally have it for themselves again, sometimes I wish I could lie in bed together with him, hold him tight, feel has small, warm body against mine and his sweet breath in my face.

But when he gets sick and feels really miserable he turns into the biggest snuggler one can imagine. He wants to be carried around 24/7. We wants me to sing songs for him, to stroke his hair, hold him tight, to cradle him for hours on end, he wants to be as close as possible to me. This time is no exception. I am so very sorry for him when he is sick and suffers and feels so miserable. And there is nothing I want more than for him to be healthy and well. But I love that I get the chance to care for him the way I would like to do much more often. That I can finally be there for him and that he also needs me then, too. And my heart skipped a beat when I entered his room last night because he woke up crying and after I had comforted him he signed me that he wanted to come to my bed with me. So we spent the rest of the night together, me cuddling and comforting him and showing him all the love that I have to set aside for moments like these.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Our Christmas, Sunny style

For the past few years since Sunny was born, there wasn't a lot of Christmas celebration around the house. Don't get me wrong, of course we celebrated it. But not like it is celebrated in families with typical children.

Sunny does not like to unwrap presents, so we did not wrap them up at all. Sunny was never interested in a Christmas tree, so last year we did not even bother to put one up. Last year we tried to bake Christmas cookies together but Sunny was not interested in helping me at all. Sunny does not understand the concept of Christmas (or any other holiday, by the way), so we do not buy a heap of presents for Christmas but rather buy what he likes over the year instead of having him wait for months until he gets that one toy that he really loves. He gets one or two presents for Christmas, of course, which are carefully chosen because it is quite difficult to get something for him that he likes. Apart from that, we always buy stuff that is not age-appropriate but rather things that he can really play with and is going to enjoy. So it is more quality than quantity in our house. ;-)

This year, however, might be the first year when he may realise that there is something going on at Christmas. They talk about it at kindergarten and he seems to be getting it a bit more this year. Therefore, I look so much forward to putting up a tree this year. To try and establish some kind of special Christmas tradition in our house, one that will still meet his needs and preferences. To give him a sense of feeling that it is a special time of year, all the while not overwhelming him with too many expectations. I said goodbye to my expectations of what our Christmas should look like a long time ago and I am fine with it.

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It is the first year that he actually notices the snow (which we already have a lot of this winter!) and that he is absolutely excited about it. When I see his eyes beaming with delight about the snow and his big, fat smile full of appreciation of the wonder that is happening outside it makes my heart melt and do a happy dance! There is nothing more important in this world to me than to make my little man smile and to make him happy and I would do everything just to see that!

So, we will see what our Christmas will be like this year. Sunny will lead the way and we will gladly follow. Christmas will probably always be special and not typical in our house, but this is how we are as well. So, I guess that is okay.

Christmas is all about love. And so the biggest present that I can ever make is show Sunny each and every day how much I love him. And there is one thing I know for sure: this is a present I am giving him every day and every minute!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The list: fast forward in slow motion

Before Sunny was born and I was still pregnant (and expecting a perfect baby) I browsed the internet for a scrapbook to keep all of my memories of Sunny's first years. I finally found a beautiful one that offered space for the ages 0-5, including prepared pages about what my child likes, dislikes, what he is like, when he got his first tooth, his first shot, stuff like that. It also contains a page where you can note down all the important, predetermined milestones: first laugh, first time rolled over, holds head up, walks, talks...

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So, after Sunny was born I started to fill in the blanks on each page. But there was one page that stayed emptier than designated and that was the page with the milestones. He missed every single milestone that was given in there and I became sadder and sadder about that. It was visible from my book that something was wrong. I wanted to write something in there and just could not. And since each milestone was eagerly awaited by me, the waiting for them became more and more stressful. But, on the other hand, there were so many wonderful but small things that he accomplished in-between those big milestones that I ran out of extra lines on the same page where it simply says "miscellaneous". 

I slowly came to realise that I would need to slow down with this page just the way that Sunny slowly developed. This is when I started my own list. I started noting down every event, every mini-milestone that he accomplished on his way to the next big milestone. I realised that those small in-between milestones were something that I needed to appreciate, too, that they were not to be taken for granted.

Today my list consists of 18 pages in Word (with an extra paragraph concerning his speech and language development) and is still growing. Every new paediatrician, doctor, therapist is excited about it since it is so detailed. That is a nice side effect. They can look up anything there.

However, for me the list became ever so important. When I go through it from time to time and I read what he already has achieved I am so proud. When I read when and how he smiled at me for the first time I can still see his baby face in front of me, smiling his toothless grin that made me melt as I had so longingly been waiting for it. When I read about when he first ate ice cream I remember how he relished in the taste of the banana ice cream I chose for him. When I read how he took his first insecure steps I remember his PT telling me afterwards that there was a time when she was not sure if he would ever walk and shivers of gratitude run down my spine. When I read how and when he sat with us at the table in his high chair for the first time I remember how proud he was to be with us and how happy that he finally saw what was going on at the table. And how I felt that we were finally a family, complete, in sitting all together at the table (sounds weird, but that made me so happy back then).

I am so glad that because of my elaborate list I will never forget those tiny moments, those freeze frames of our life that is running in slow motion on the one hand, while on the other hand it is just passing by me in fast forward mode.

I am thankful for...

I love that! I found this on facebook today and wanted to share it. I think we should appreciate the good things in our lives more often! Sometimes we may have to look a little closer to find the good in everyday things. Have a happy day! :-)

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

St. Barbara's day

... is on December 4 which is today.

The tradition of St. Barbara's day is to cut off some branches from cherry, apple, plum, or other trees. The branches are supposed to bloom until December 24 at the latest, bringing a bit of beauty to the home during the cold and dark time to come. Moreover, the blooming branches are said to bring good luck for the coming year.

I have never tried it before but I just went outside and cut off some branches of our cherry tree. I mean, we all can do with a bit of luck, so I will give it a try! ;-)

Christmas traditions

I think I know quite a lot of things about the Christmas traditions in the US. However, there are still things that are new to me like the Elf on the Shelf but obviously this is something relatively new so I had myself educated about it (and was quite amused ;-) ).
Update: I also love this post about the Elf on the Shelf! It really made me laugh (like almost everything she writes!).

But as I thought about the Elf thing this morning I was wondering what you know about our Christmas traditions? Maybe you are interested to know so I will tell you a bit about it.

The time before Christmas is called Advent. It starts on the fourth Sunday before December 24. I would say that almost every household has a traditional Advent wreath or something more modern including four candles and some winter decoration like small Christmas tree balls, pine branches, small pine cones, and stuff like that. We light the first candle on the fourth Sunday, then the first and the second on the third Sunday before Christmas etc. Generally speaking, the Advent wreath symbolises the increase of light as an expression of the rising expectation of the birth of Jesus.

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In most families with small children it is a tradition to bake a variety of home-made Christmas cookies together with the kids. These are special cookies only baked for the Advent and Christmas time and many families use recipes that have been handed down from one generation to the other. They are beautifully adorned and some are really small works of art.

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We love our Christmas markets! The booths are enchantingly decorated and you can buy anything there: gloves, handmade socks, hats, tableware, candles, Christmas decorations, belts, and a lot of yummy things to eat ... One of the most important things there is to enjoy some hot spiced wine (Gl├╝hwein) and a bratwurst (at least that is our MUST when we visit the Christmas markets!). 

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We celebrate St. Nicholas on December 6. He comes to your house the night before if you want him to (you can rent one for your kids) together with Knecht Ruprecht. St. Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht are a bit like the good and the bad cop. Knecht Ruprecht is the "servant" of St. Nicholas. He carries a rood with him which is meant as a threat to punish badly behaved children (but, of course, he does not punish anyone!) and also a bag with the presents. St. Nicholas summarises the good and bad things the kids did in the course of the year (he reads all of these things from a golden book) and gives them some small presents, nuts, and tangerines. 

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The Christmas tree usually is set up on December 24, not before. The kids have to stay outside of the room where the Christmas tree is put up. The parents decorate the tree and put the presents under it (all the while trying not to be discovered by the kids!). When they are finished a small bell is rung which means that the Christ Child was there and brought some presents. This is when the child is allowed to enter the room, see the beautifully adorned and lit tree and the presents. We do not have stockings for the presents. We wrap them up in wrapping paper and put them under the tree.

Historically, we celebrate the Christ Child on the evening of December 24 (it is the one bringing the presents) but it becomes more and more common to celebrate Santa instead. Unfortunately, we like to adopt a lot of traditions from the US (obviously we like you guys very much ;-) ) which is something I am not too excited about. My opinion is that we have our own culture and traditions and should not forget about them. A lot of families visit church for Christmas masses in the early evening or late at night. December 25 and 26 are national holidays most commonly spent with family, enjoying good food and each other's company.

If you want to know more about our traditions or if you have questions please let me know in the comments. I hope that wasn't boring! :-)

Monday, 3 December 2012

My home away from home

Sunny and I were away for the weekend. We went to visit my parents and my sister with her family.

We had such a wonderful, relaxing time there. I wish I could see my family more often. But as everyone is always busy we only manage to meet every 2-3 months. This is why I enjoy it even more when we visit them. We had some good quality time together, went for a long walk in the snow, had a beautiful dinner together, and just enjoyed each other's company.

Moreover, every time I visit my parents I try to meet as many of my old friends as possible. This time was no exception and I luckily met two of my best friends that I know since I started school. We laughed a lot, cried a little, had good conversations, and indulged in good food and sparkling wine. I really enjoyed their company. There is so much peace and comfort in hanging out with people that know you since you were all teeny tiny and I am glad that for all of these years we stayed in touch and kept our friendships going. Good friends mean a lot to me. They know my life story and are forever intertwined with it. We have so many memories to share and always good laughs when we talk about the past.

I am always astonished at how my home town's face has changed over the years since I moved away. I explore the city every time I am there, checking out what is different since my last visit and, on the other hand, being comforted that I still recognise this town as my home town, where I grew up and where I know every street and every corner. Where good and valuable memories are connected with places and houses and public buildings, with shops and fountains and streets. I am still deeply in love with my home town.

"Home is where the heart is" they say. I know that a part of my heart will always be there, right in the middle of my home town. It will always be my home away from home.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas is coming ;-)

I know it is old and probably everyone already knows it, but since Christmas is approaching fast now I thought it was about time to get into the swing of things ;-)

And isn't this really how it would be like today? Well, maybe sort of.