Monday, December 29, 2008

Welcome to the world, little one!

This is the Gutsy Dad, writing on behalf of the entire Gutsy Family…

Madelyn James
8lbs, 0 Oz
21 inches
December 29, 2008

The Gutsy Mom and Madelyn are doing fine! Jillson, Meme & Kiki all came to meet the “little one” and Jillsie declared that Madelyn is “cute.”

We will include some more pictures soon.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Santa Came!

This year, it was our first time celebrating Christmas as a "nuclear" family in our very own home, with dogs, kid(s), and grandparents together. What fun!

The Gutsy Dad got new (baby) gear, of course:

Jillson was happy to unwrap presents for one and all:

Lila was the lucky recipient of a stroller just her size:

Meme reads to Jillsie:

Like Kiki, like Jillsie:

The Gutsy Dad treated the Gutsy Mom to new boots and a new bag. You can never go wrong with boots and bags. (Please pardon my bedhead.)

A Gutsy Family tradition--cheese curls in the stocking:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

38 Weeks & Lost In Thought

Warning: this blog post is filled with excessively sentimental writing. The end of this pregnancy has inspired some serious thinking. And, well, 'tis the season to clear my mind.

My mom pointed out in an email that both my grandmother and I have experienced what it is like to be expecting this time of year (Mom was born December 31st), and so I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit. Pregnant or not, this time of year is filled with great expectations: Christmas is coming, plans are underfoot to see family we haven’t seen for a while, new beginnings lie just around the corner with the new year. We have advent calendars and paper chains and shopping lists. We are all waiting for something. My grandmother once told me how much she enjoyed this time of year when she was pregnant, sitting in the dark with my grandfather during the blackouts (it was WWII), singing Christmas carols, and discussing names for the baby. I love this picture of a young family making the most of uncertain times; I love that it was my mom—eventually named Carol—whom they were discussing and, literally, singing into this world.

I’ve also spent some time thinking about Mary. Yes, that Mary, the Mary. I’ve been feeling quite sympathetic for her, due to the discomforts that come along at the end of a pregnancy. If the Gutsy Dad turned to me and said “Hop up on the donkey, honey, we’re going on a road trip,” do you think my response would be full of grace? (More like: “No. No. Ow. And, no. Can’t we send in an absentee census form?”) Right now, I wouldn’t ride a donkey around the block, let alone to the next city. But Mary did. And she did it as an unwed teenager. And she did it because it is what was asked of her. How does a person find the strength to do that? (I am not just talking about the donkey ride anymore; I mean, how does a person find the strength to—literally—bring God into the world? Would you do it if it were asked of you? If you are a Christian, are you doing so now, metaphorically? Are you doing all that is asked of you? Are you bringing God into the world? I don’t normally talk about religion on the blog, but I told you the end of this pregnancy has me thinking. I know I am not doing everything I can.)

Finally, I have been filled to overflowing with thoughts of another young family. My brother’s friend, Luke, has a 5-year-old daughter Madeline who is dying from pleural pulmonary blastoma. She’s been sick for a long time and has survived several brain surgeries, but it seems the tumors have grown inoperable. Her doctors are not certain she will make it to the new year. Inspite of what must be an unbearable situation, the family is trying to do something fun every day; today, at Madeline's request, they are baking cookies for all of the children on the hospital ward where Madeline was treated. So now, during this holiday season, as I prepare with my family to welcome a new little life into this world, I also think of Madeline and her family, preparing to let go of a life. How does a person find the strength to do that?

I once read somewhere that all of our prayers can be boiled down to one or two words, and I think this is true. So these are the words that I have been praying over and over this week:

For my own family’s situation, I pray thank you.

For Madeline and her family, simply help them.

Friday, December 19, 2008

'Tis the Season...

...TO BE JELLY, according to Jillsie.

A few recent pics that are cheering me up on an otherwise gloomy Friday morning.

What's a boy to do? Jillsie "helps" cousin Teddy:

Purple passion is our fashion (I think that was something my mom used to chant in college):

Post-bath happiness--Tilly licks Jillsie's toes:

Talking to Meme:

After the humiliation of a bath, Tilly finds a seasonal place to curl up and dry:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Murphy's Law

I know it is, in general, rather tacky to complain about pregnancy-related issues, but sometimes you just hafta. Please understand, I am deeply grateful to be pregnant, I enjoy being pregnant, I know I am blessed to pregnant, and, in general, I find pregnancy to be a wondrous thing.


I am currently being plagued by random, intense soreness. One day it is the quads, the next day it is the shoulders, the next day it is the groin, the next it is the hammies, the next day the butt. I assure you I am doing nothing out of the ordinary. No crazy-long walks, no weight-lifting videos, no long periods of sitting or standing or doing any one thing. Just crippling achiness.

The Gutsy Dad is an expert masseuse at this point, and a very patient one, but I assure you he is just as delighted as I am by the arrival of our new "i-need" back massager thing from Brookstone. Loooooooove this thing. It's mean, it's lean, it's lime green, and it kneads the heck out of my back multiple times a day.

Next. I believe it is Murphy's Law that I now wake up--fully--some time between 4:30 and 5:30am, when the Gutsy Dad gets up. He has always gotten up this early, and I have always slept through it. Not anymore. Wide awake and starving. And, wouldn't you know, right around 6:45, I am exhausted again and ready for my morning nap. But guess who wakes up around 7:00am... She is not subtle either. You can't sleep through (even fake sleep through) "Mommy, I'm reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeady! Mommy, come get me! Just a minute, Jillson, Mommy is coming to get you down! Jilllllllllson! Oh, Jillson, you need a change. Wait for Mommmmmmy! Mommmmmmmmy! I neeeeeeeeeeed you!"

I do appreciate her attempt to get herself to wait. Now if only she would whisper it.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


For those of you who haven't seen The Belly recently, this is what it looks like at 36 and a half weeks. For the record, the belly button is out, out, out. That never happened when I was pregnant with Jillson, but there you have it. Sieby is asserting herself already.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Not Yet

Having recently been chastised via email by a good friend, albeit quite graciously, for not posting in over a week and making her wonder whether something very exciting had happened.... the answer is no. I'm at 36 weeks and holding tight, as it were.

Sieby is the size of a crenshaw melon and still very active, though things are getting a bit cramped for her in there.

On Sunday, we returned from a whirlwind Tour de Family in the States. We were lucky enough to see all four of our siblings, their spouses, their kids, and the infamous Meme and Kiki. Whew! Fun details to follow. Okay, fun details POSSIBLY will follow, if I ever get around to posting pictures. I cannot make any more promises like that, as I am totally consumed by getting the house in order for the baby and decorating for Christmas.

I love Christmas in Germany, so you will certainly hear more on this topic in future posts.

In the meantime, I leave you with a few little tidbits:

-- The Gutsy Dad and I believe we have finally chosen a real name for Sieby. (You'll have to wait for the Geburt to find out what it is.)

-- A marder chewed through the wires on the Gutsy Dad's brand new Volvo, rendering all electronic communication with his brakes impossible. Sadly, this repair will cost about the same as our deductible. Sigh. (Go ahead, google marder along with crenshaw melon.) Ah, the cute, little, wire-loving twerps.

-- Our Christmas tree is up!

-- We have a few new inches of snow. (Need to get trekking poles to go with our new snowshoes.)

-- A recent chat with Jillson:

Jillsie: (pointing to Mommy's belly) Papa's udder dodder is in there.
Mommy: That's right!
Jillsie: (pointing to Mommy's right boob) And Mommy's udder dodder is in there.
Mommy: Um...
Jillsie: (pointing to Mommy's left boob) And Jillson's liddle sister is in that one.
Mommy: No, sweetie, there's only one baby, and it is in Mommy's belly. It's Mommy's other daughter, Papa's other daughter, AND Jillsie's little sister all in one.
Jillsie: No, Mommy, no. Nein. Papa is having three dodders. We need to get Papa more dodders. And Papa will get a new ring for you. And Meme will get a new ring for Jillson.

Okay, then.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Get 'er Done, or, Chores with the Gutsy Dad, Part Two

Riding high after the success of his silver polishing ("honey, this should totally go on the blog," said he), the Gutsy Dad moved on to yet another favorite chore around here: breaking down the cardboard boxes that periodically grow into large mountains in our garage. In my defense, I did do this on my own several times during the RLBT, but the last few months of the RLBT were riddled with spastic rounds of retail therapy, so Mount Cardboard was rather high again.

Zephie, who despises any activity that has to do with boxes because it surely must mean that we are going to pack up the house and leave without her, found this chore the least enjoyable. She quickly found a spot to plant herself, proving that she takes quite seriously what my father calls Golden Rule Number One: don't get left behind.

Jillsie seemed to enjoy herself the most, even though she got in trouble for ignoring Papa's warnings about dumping out the boxes. "Sorry I dumped the nuts on the ground, Papa,"said she.

"What? I'm innocent."

Zephie is skeptical about "helping."

Lastly, here is our latest attempt at an entry into the "Cutest Wistful Golden Retriever Pose" photography contest.

Out & About

With Sieby on the way, we've been doing some gear testing (Chris, for example, went for a bike ride using the Chariot stroller and loved it) and this has led to more outdoor adventures for us as a family. Recently, we went on a family hike in Pottenstein with a bunch of friends and kids and dogs. (Good thing, too, since we now have three inches of snow and this particular hike would've been tricky for me with snow... but never fear, we've got snow shoes on the way for future snowy hikes!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Random Updates

Here's a long overdue summary of "what we've been up to" since the happy reunion a few weeks ago. I can't say there has been anything Tres Exciting, but there have been many, small, wonderful moments. Let us start with this one: Yes, that is my husband polishing silver. He hadn't even been home for a week. Many of you know that since we moved to Germany I have been using my grandmother's silverware as our everyday, whatever-you-need-it-for flatware. Why, you may ask? Well, my Grandma used it every day--for her cereal in the morning and for her ice cream at night and for everything in between. She once explained to me that she didn't see the point of saving beautiful things for special occasions only; if you have something beautiful and you are not using it, then that is wasteful. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this philosophy (I try to apply it to my whole life) and how much I have been enjoying using her silver--every day.

BUT. Those of you who have visited have seen that I have adopted a rather "shabby chic" approach to maintaining the beauty of the silver. Using it makes me happy, polishing it not so much. Truly, I had been intending to polish it for well over a year. I even bought two different polishing aids to make it "fun." So imagine my surprise when I busted my not-so-domestically-inclined husband polishing the silver one morning in his pajamas. He had purchased gloves and two more polishing aids OF HIS OWN ACCORD in order to do it.

The result is beyond beautiful: And, well, since he was doing that, I figured I better make myself useful (or at least do something to make myself feel deserving of polished silver), so I cleaned out the "scary cabinet." Only some of you know what this used to look like, and trust me, that's a good thing. Now we move on to the "history repeating itself" portion of our summary. It has two parts.

PART ONE: Happy Dogs

PART TWO: St. Martin's Fest
You can google the German tradition of kindergartners celebrating St. Martin if you want the full history of this folksy, religious tradition, so I'll just share with you the parts that mattered most to me last week. When I was six, I participated in this fest with my parents when we lived in the Black Forest. With the other children, I made a lantern out of an old coffee can, covered in construction paper, and with a pattern poked into it via hammer and nail. I believe there was a stick to hold the lantern out in front, and a real-live-flame tea light involved. We walked through the town at night, singing St. Martin hymns and promising to keep our lanterns lit.

I remember doing that all these years later, so imagine my delight when Jillson's kindergarten sent home the flyer announcing it was St. Martin's time. Unbeknownst to me, Jillson and her 2-year-old classmates had made lanterns in "class" and it was requested that I pay 1 Euro to cover the cost of her battery-operated tea light.

Jills, the Gutsy Dad, and I showed up at the church in town at the appointed time (5pm) to watch and participate in the short, kinder-centric St. Martin's "Andacht." The older kindergartners had been preparing songs for weeks. Upon seeing them up front performing, Jillson ran up to join them, and then stood in the middle of the performance, swaying and dancing, and whispering to her teacher, Nadine. (At one point, she apparently hissed to Nadine, "I need a change!" That's my girl. Announcing to the teacher, God, and the congregation that she had a poopy dipe.) I worried whether Jillson's taking center stage was cute or annoying, but then I decided to stop worrying because to remove her from the scene would have meant mucho shrieking in the very echoey Baroque church. After the service, we followed "St. Martin" who was on his real, live horse through the darkened streets of town, singing songs, swinging our lanterns, and serenading the good people at two old folks homes.The parade ended at Jillson's kindergarten which served wurst and kinderpunsch and gluewein, with parents huddled around bonfires. As for the other pictures from this special event--most of them are just blips of light in the dark night, but this is okay by me, because I am not likely to forget.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Alive & Well

Just a quick note to say that we are, indeed, still here and doing well, even though I haven't been able to update the blog in ages. I'll get back to you soon with pics and stories, I promise. In the meantime, here are two recent favorites.

Friday, October 31, 2008

EEK! There's a giant mouse running down the street!

What a big day we had here! In the morning, we went to the campus to welcome home some more of our neighborhood Papas. WOO HOO!

After nap time (or what was really nap refusal--two hours of babbling and singing) Jillsie donned her costume and we headed off to Jess's for a little munchkin gathering. (Group photos to follow.) On the way home, Jillsie got to trick or treat at about ten houses with her Papa (it was dark by then) and she bumped into all of our neighborhood friends in their little costumes. TOO CUTE!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thank God.

He's here. He made it. I just keep saying "thank you thank you thank you" in my head, over and over. A new, shorter prayer, I suppose, to replace our lengthier special bedtime prayer, which we didn't have to say last night.

I am so grateful we made it through this thing.

I'll have pictures soon, I promise. The Gutsy Dad is sound asleep, and the pics from last night's reunion feature the work clothes...

Needless to say, all of the Gutsy Girls are very, very happy.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dispatch from the Donut of Hope

The Gutsy Dad has been gone for:

63+ weeks
442+ days
10,622 hours
637,364 minutes
38,241,890 seconds

This is lasting forever.

Still Waiting

Rather than complain, I am posting this super-happy song. I heard this song on the radio a while a back and thought "I need that song" but I didn't know the name of it, who sang it, or any of the lyrics. I remembered the tune, though! In college, I used to go to the local HMV music store and say "it goes like this!" and then I would hum or "doo-doo-doo" various songs for the people who worked there. In every case, except for one--more on that later--, they knew what I was singing and found me my song. Well, Google doesn't respond to "it sounds like this." So, thank you Vicki, for posting this song on your site. It led me to many happy hours of surfing and reading and listening.

I know, I know. Jason Mraz been around for a while, and saying you like "I'm Yours" was a little bit like saying you liked UB40's "Red, Red Wine" in 8th grade. You'd be lame not to like it. I'm sure Jason's popular on the prep school circuit (he looks like he's still a student at one) and the college circuit. (According to the comments on his myspace, he is also quite popular with young girls in the Philippines. Hmm. Am I aging myself by saying that, as a mom, I am deeply paranoid about myspace and facebook?)

I am for sure aging myself by saying that I have come to realize that many of the new or new-to-me artists I am discovering these days are younger than I am. This is sobering. I remember my Dad talking a bit wistfully about the time(s) when he was watching baseball on TV only to realize that all the ballplayers were younger than he was. Is this my equivalent? Sigh.

Here's hoping that listening to Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson and Brandi Carlile will help keep me young. Or will they be to me what Tina Turner, Barry Manilow, and Lionel Richie were to our parents? Just my last attempt at staying hip? (Flash forward 12 years or so. I can just hear Jillsie and Sieby saying "Mom, pleeeease don't pick us up from school with that Jason Mraz stuff blasting, it's soooooo embarrassing.)

Finally, readers, if this song doesn't make you bop in your seat I think you need to have a serious reality check with yourself. Just let the pop reggae mellowness get on inside ya...

Cheers from the land of insomnia--
Still no news on the arrival of the Gutsy Dad--

The Immer-Hip Gutsy Mom

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time, Time, Tickin' On Me

Look to the clock on the wall
Hands hardly moving at all
I can't stand the state that I'm in
Sometimes it feels like the wall's closing in
Oh Lord, what can I say?
I'm so sad since you went away
Time, time, tickin' on me
Alone is the last place I wanted to be
Lord, what can I say?

-- "What Can I Say?" Brandi Carlile (of course)

Yesterday I finally received the official email that said this:
"Ladies: [We are] expecting a flight in the next 24-48hrs. This is a [Cheetah] flight."
YEEHAW! Okay, so my husband's group is not really called the Cheetah Group, but you don't think after 15 months of carefully not mentioning a single word about what group he is with, I'd go and drop the name in this post, did you?

Then, today, I was chatting with the Gutsy Dad online, and he ended by inadvertently quoting a popular song from Annie. That's right, people, the sun WILL come out... Not so sure I'll be sleeping well tonight.

In the meantime, here are some things for you to look at that I made for my design course.

WEEK ONE: Symmetrical Balance

WEEK TWO: Asymmetrical BalanceThis is one of my favorite layouts I've ever done. I wish I could show you my other homework assignment from Asymmetry Week, but it features my husband wearing his work clothes.

REAL WORLD COLOR: Challenge #1

REAL WORLD COLOR: Challenge #2In these "Real World Color" challenges, the instructor sends us something from the real world that has inspired her, color-wise, for design. She also sends us a sketch to follow for the design, so that all we have to worry about is getting the colors to work together. Pretty cool. The first challenge came from a carpet catalog. We had to use a sort of chocolate brown, peach, and sky blue. The second challenge came from a Crate & Barrel ad. We had to use another deep brown (I think my instructor has a thing for brown), bright pink, and bright orange. I'm fond of how the layout turned out with Zephie & Tilly. Not as fond of the one with Jills & The Gutsy Dad. But it was fun to figure it all out anyway.

So, now I am caught up on my homework from Weeks 1 and 2. Of course, Week 3 homework is due tomorrow, and I haven't even started. Good thing this is such a flexible class! Hmm, maybe that's what I can work on while I am not sleeping tonight. I can finally watch my Week 3 lecture. Oh goody! A plan for insomnia! Love it.

Time to load the kid into the car for our daily drive to the campus to see if the car paperwork has come in the mail or not.