Happy 5 little Bird

The sun didn't shine as I'd hoped but it didn't rain! Bird is 5 years old now! There is a picture in the left sidebar of my blog...Bird is less than one year old in the picture. Just amazing. What a girl.

Gigi and Grandpa drove up for the weekend and we had fun opening presents together. Flamenco dress from Spain, shiny red shoes, crocheted barrettes, toy cash register (instantly causing fights between the kiddos...oh well), & Hello Kitty dvd's in German.

We've all been a little sick with colds and Griffin has been getting up at night and also early in the morning. The party started at 10:30 (with some folks arriving even earlier...a German thing??) and he was asleep on my shoulder by 11:00. I tucked him in the wagon turned bench and he was so cozy and snug despite the sunless 50 degree weather (14 celsius) that he slept nearly 2 hours while the party went on around him!

Bird was allowed to invite 5 friends so of course she insisted on 6. They all have names that end in "a" or "e" (which is also the "ah" sound in German) and they were all adorable, well behaved little ladies. I was super impressed and we had a really great time. The trampoline was the hit of course. We got it for Bird as an early present back in April (the snow had JUST stopped) and have used it as much as possible in between all the rain. It is fabulous!! I think it was a great outlet for all the sugar consumed...& thankfully no one was (seriously) injured.

We had our new typical mix of languages. It is starting to feel quite familiar at this point. There was even Spanish spoken between my parents and one of the dads who apparently knows 5 languages. How neat that he and my parents found a connection through Spanish.

I've discovered that the children's birthday parties here consist purely of sweets...cake, cupcakes, candies, chocolates, juice, soda even. I can't do it that way! So we made sure to put out our usual fare - veg, fruits, pizza, sausages & bread, crackers, cheese, etc., and then brought out pudding, cupcakes and finally the birthday cake after a little while. Bird is quite a different kid when she's all sugared up. Can't say I'm a fan :/ !

It was fun to recycle bits of decor from year's past and add new stuff like crepe paper flowers (I became a little obsessed making them...). I also had a kiddie pool full of really used water beads and I scooped them into vases with pretty flowers (Bird's current favorite color is yellow, with a stated preference toward "light" colors - missing the sun much dearie?). I tossed the rest into the garbage bin. I can picture this Thursday when the garbage guys toss the contents of the bin into the truck, if they miss even just a little those bright blue beads will be bouncing all over the neighborhood. They may certainly take note of the number on the can belonging to the problem house.

Bird has some lovely friends at her kindergarten. She also has a bestie, little L, who is only 3 years old. But age doesn't matter and they totally have a connection. It is super sweet and I hope Bird remembers this time years from now and will enjoy these pictures.

All 7 little ladies in one shot! Success! Thank the cupcakes.

Hello Kitty is a favorite these days. I happily complied and put together the HK birthday cake with marzipan icing (my first time using it). I admit to getting more excited about birthday parties than probably my whole household combined. I totally use it as a creative outlet and feel I have every excuse to steal time to work on things for the current party in the making. Maybe I should use this attitude toward my own work in general...gets me thinking...

We sang Happy Birthday in English because that's the way the Germans do it too :o)

And shortly thereafter our lovely little Griffy awoke. Ready for a cupcake and trampoline time.

The sun never came but we still went for it and I'm glad. Complete with moving our sofa into the garden, along with half a dozen other indoor household items. This place is not California! But it is LUSH with greenery and so gorgeous.

Little 5 year old Bird, you are getting so much more beautiful inside and out every day. You show simple acts of kindness that make us so proud. You are so observant of your world and you take notice of every detail. The little things really matter to you. You are a lover of babies, swinging & jumping, reading books, and being in charge. You will try almost anything, especially if I (or Daddy) will do it with you. Little adventurer, always ready to go. Something new, something different, something else...you will find it, or you will come up with it. Determined, with a plan. And instructions (sometimes barked as orders) for everyone involved. Little General. I don't worry about you a bit. You are my beautiful babe. I still remember your fuzzy head on my neck as you'd hang out on my shoulder when you were so small and not wanting to leave my side. I always look forward to the mornings I get to snuggle with you. Cozy & warm...love love love you little Bird.

And today is Phylo's birthday!! Happy 8th birthday to our sweet boy.

Much love & hugs,

Happy 2nd Birthday Griffin

Happy 2 little Griffin :) :)

Dear Griffin,

Today you are two years old! We had a fun & noisy party surrounded by people who love you. New friends, your mom and dad, your Gigi and Grandpa, your sister who you kindly picked out a present for and made sure she got her present first before even realizing you were standing next to a new tricycle, firetruck, and frog backpack. You are a wonder to us and every day with you is a fresh adventure.

This past year you have often stretched me, as you have consistently amazed and impressed me. You still get up 3+ times a night (I barely remember that one time you slept all the way till morning) and you barely nap 30 minutes a day. I think you just don't want to miss out on a thing. You have your own agenda and make it very clear how you feel - usually with words (often full sentences), sometimes with force. Your strong sense of self is inspiring, if a little intimidating. Some days I think you have hit me more than 50 times, often a smack to the face. Those are usually the days I put up the baby gate to keep you away from me as I make dinner and loudly sing songs trying find a "happy place". It's lovely when you go from screaming hitting maniac to dance party Griffy in Bird's outgrown sparkly pink slippers. How wonderful that you live in the moment most of the time. Thank you for reminding me to not be so serious. To remember to be curious..."what's that Mama?" "where's dat from Mama?"...and to slow down.

You are so happy to be held..."up Mama, up!!" You love touch and comfort. You love your home and often ask to "go home". Bird always wants to go! - off for adventures. You are happiest to come home. You are starting a lot of imaginary play and your language skills are shocking. Yesterday you made a funny rhyme while eating your breakfast. We like to talk about colors - you love the word "violeta" (purple in spanish, and in our house pronounced loudly as VEEEOHLETTA!). You said "breakfast...not done yet-a! violeta!". You can count to 20 sort of, not perfectly in order, but in both English and German. You love animals and at the toy shops gravitate toward the animatronic animals that purr and bark. You are often fearless...rarely cry much when you get hurt (full superman flip off the swing, bellyflop onto face and tummy in the muddy mulch, 30 seconds of crying, bit of freak out from Mommy, then here we go off to the see saw...), though teething has been awful and we have gone through plenty of sleepless nights and ibuprofen. You starting getting out of your crib at 16 months old and have had a big twin size bed for a couple of months now. After reading books at night you can walk yourself to bed, climb up and tuck yourself in. You can also get yourself out of bed, out of the room, then sneak into our bed at any time of the night you want to. I hope now that you're 2 you will start to become a deep sleeper!!

I love how you engage other people. You are hesitant at first, but within minutes a charmer. You are impish but mostly because you want to interact. Just like Bird you are a go-getter and I feel confident you will grow up to be a wonderful boy, young man, adult, father, grandfather...how privileged we are to have you sweet Griffin.

Happy Birthday :o)

Love Love Love

Griffin is 18 months old

Apple with his pasta, why not? Happy one and a half year birthday to you Griffy :) #dinner #18months

I think with the excitement of his one and a half year birthday Griffin can't help but look forward to being that much closer to 2 and therefore is celebrating with plenty of "no!", full body tantrums, smacking Mom in the face while saying "no!" (for extra emphasis), and shaking his head "no!" whenever possible. Oh dear...

Interspersed between finding his new voice Griffy is hilarious, heart crushingly cute, cuddly, very interested in other people, and super excited about many things including anything that moves on legs (dogs! cats! beetles!), putting on big sister Bird's shirts and dresses (yellow is a favorite color), mixing all his foods (see photo above), climbing any and everything (heart attack for me), picking and smelling flowers, turning shoes into cars and trains, and playing peek-a-boo which has turned into a game of a very screamy mis-timed "Ooooo!!" to which we jump and look as surprised as possible and give him all sorts of enjoyment.

We love you little Griffin. Wonderful precious heart stealing boy.
Hopefully tomorrow we can do a proper half year birthday, assuming we'll all be in the mood for it ;o)

Love and hugs from Germany,

Griffin is ONE

Today is St. Patrick's Day but more importantly to us, it's Griffin's 1st Birthday!!

Birthday boy! Griffin enjoying his 1st birthday :)

See saw! #aachen #germany

Leg hugs :)

Before leaving San Jose, we had a big fun party with friends and celebrated our boy's upcoming birthday and our impending departure. It was so amazingly great to spend a few moments with many of our friends and have the chance to give last hugs for at least a little while. Griffy had a lovely time being passed around (still not really walking!) and squeezed, then enjoyed handfuls of chocolate cupcake after we sang him the Birthday song (Bird obligingly blew out his candle).

Walking practice w Griffy

Dear Griffin,

You are the sweetest little one...I smile every time I think of you. You can play and find fun in just about everything that crosses your gaze. You're cuddly and ferociously affectionate at times (full body hugs, often in the middle of the night). You are who I expected you to be in that you bring a lightness to our family, a sweetness, an attitude that life is better when you're having fun. You don't get mad at your sister when she's less than gentle with you. In fact, you call her in your own unique way when you get up in the morning and realize she's not there. You love our Phylo...maybe a bit much. But he doesn't seem to mind you. You have an appetite for life, and also for food! You love all sorts of things but especially food with real flavor. Spices, olive oil, almost anything off our plates :o) You want big hunks of things and you want to feed yourself. Yesterday you were putting your food on a spoon and attempting to eat with it. You're really into mimicking us and enjoy copying our random sneezes and coughs, then laughing about it. You were almost able to blow out your birthday candle tonight. I know you'll get it soon.


Homemade #cookies brought from San Jose. We have a pretty decent food stash.

#apartmenttour #germany #aachen So happy to have found this 7€ rug in "as is" at ikea yesterday! That and the laundry basket are big hits.

Things that move get you really excited. You love hide and seek. Trains are fascinating. Dogs are intriguing (and you bark quite well). You've taken 3 or 4 steps at a time and practice at random moments. You still try to eat little rocks at parks and playgrounds (sigh). You love to be held and you love snuggles. Diaper changes are a waste of your time apparently. You have the grabbiest fingers I've ever seen on a kid (disastrous!) and you're loving our crazy tiny table here at the apartment in Aachen as you can reach everyone's plates :o) You love books & when we read to you. You're starting to babble on and on and have little conversations. You still don't sleep well at night but we're getting ready to move you in with your big sister soon anyway (you two will work it out).

Beer and baby :) Down the street from our apartment in #Aachen #Germany

Ikea in The Netherlands

This past year with you has been amazing Griffin! What a journey it's been. A year ago today I never would have imagined we'd be moving to Germany and you'd have your little childhood here. What fun for you and Bird and for all of us to have together. Can't wait for many adventures ahead with you.

All my love, Mama

A few pics from before the move :o)

(early) Birthday boy and his balloons

Waiting for bites of dad's cereal

Crazy town at our house #moving

Mattresses on the floor! #moving

Done for the day #moving