Archive for February, 2012


Monday, February 20th, 2012

There aren’t many friends you can talk about poop with.  I don’t mean as a mom, talking about our kids — that’s something moms do pretty easily.  From the time we bring our little ones home from the hospital, we are willing — enthusiastic even — to discuss all aspects of things that come out of our children:  color, volume, timing, consistency.  The only thing that holds us back is some sense of preserving modesty for our children, and the desire to not be known as “that mom who only talks about poop”.


Toddling around the playground

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

Pam & Joshua must have brought the good weather with them from the States — it almost could have passed for springtime here in Vienna.  The 40 degree temperature felt quite warm after weeks where we never got above (or even very near) freezing for a high temperature.  This morning, the sun came out from behind the clouds and filled our apartment with light.  (Benjamin declared that since the sun was so bright, it must be very hot outside.)  The boys took one look at the blue skies and decided they wanted to go to the playground, so off we went.  (Which makes it sound very easy, while in reality the logistics of coordinating the preparatino of 3 adults and 3 children, along with a grocery store trip and a broken elevator, are very complicated, and although we started getting ready to leave the house around 9:30 this morning, it was after 2:00 when we actually left.)


My favorite thing

Friday, February 17th, 2012

My wonderful friend Pam arrived in Vienna today, along with her 4 year old son, Joshua.  I am so excited to see them — it’s almost surreal to have them visit us here.  We’ve had a lovely day so far of catching up and talking — she’s telling me what’s been going on at home, I’ve been sharing what it’s like to live in Vienna.  At one point, she asked me, “What’s your favorite thing about Vienna?”

An ironic question, but I gave it some thought.  At first, I thought of the Christmas markets, and then I mentioned that I love how safe it is here.  But I kept thinking about it, and realized that my absolute favorite thing about living in Vienna is the lifestyle.

I love that it’s not just accepted, but expected, that people will put time with their family ahead of their work.  The profession you practice doesn’t define you here — people have as their priority their leisure and family time, and they fit work into that, rather than the reverse.  The culture focuses on time spent together, rather than on the activity.  Life happens at a slower, less hurried pace, and people stop to help each other when they need it — it’s almost a social obligation.

This is exactly what I needed to witness in my life.  I needed to be exposed to a different way of doing things, to see how well it can work to focus first on what is truly most important.  I’m learning to adopt some of these lessons in my own life (at least, I hope I am) and I’m really grateful for it.  That’s my favorite thing about Vienna . . . so far.

Picture Day

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

It’s been nearly six months since Benjamin first attended “school” (kindergarten here, but it would be preschool at home).  Today was his first ever ”Picture Day”.

He was so excited for Picture Day.  It was one of the few events I understood from our orientation meeting back in September, so we’ve known it was coming for a while.  I asked him if he had any particular outfit he’d like to wear today, but he wanted me to choose.  So I picked out a red sweater and corduroys this morning (he opted for the dark brown pants over the tan ones, so he did have some input — he also insisted in his red and white striped socks).  I made sure his hair was neat (and then promptly put his hat on him), his teeth were brushed and there was no conspicuous residual glitter on his face anywhere (we’ve been making valentines the last few days, so there is glitter EVERYWHERE in our house).  We’ve even been practicing our “picture smiles” for the past few days, and we took a few practice pictures before he left for school this morning.  He looked so darn cute, and very grown up, heading out the door with Dan.

I haven’t seen the results yet, but he says it went great.  He showed Dan where they got their pictures taken when he picked him up, and he assured us that he smiled for his pictures.  He also told us that in German, you don’t say “cheese” for pictures, you say “Spiderman” instead (I guess that’s what the photographer told him to say) but he told me he said “cheese” anyway.  I can’t wait to see my baby’s first school pictures, and I’m amazed at how grown up he is.

Friends from home

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

We’re all really excited — my wonderful friend Pam is coming to visit us later this week with her 4 year old son, Joshua.  Benjamin is particularly excited — it’s the first time that we’ve had an overnight visitor here in Austria who is about his age.  I guess that really makes it the very first time he’s hosted a sleepover — and it’s going to last a week!  He’s planning which movies they should watch and what toys they should play with . . . and he’s been telling me for days that he promises he’ll remember to share and play nicely.  (We’ll see . . . )


My favorite Valentine

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Last night, after the boys were in bed, I got out the construction paper, glue, stickers and glitter.  I made a Valentine’s Day card for each of them.  I love doing little things like that for them, and it’s extra fun when it’s a surprise.  B is onto me — he knew he’d be getting a card.  He specifically asked that it come *in the mail* because I usually just hand them to them.  (I was behind schedule, so Dan brought them in “from the mailbox” this afternoon, which really means we hid them in our foyer after I made them last night.)  Since they knew the cards were coming, I also made each of the boys a glittery heart with their name on it as a surprise, which I stuck to their doors (above the as yet not taken down Advent calendars) last night while they were sleeping.

This morning, after the boys had been up for a while (I was already in the shower) B saw the heart on his door and got really excited.  He ran to check to see if Liam had one, and was thrilled to show him.  Then he checked our bedroom door.  When he saw there wasn’t one on there, he asked Dan, “Daddy, can we make one for Mommy’s door?”

I got out of the shower just in time to see Dan attaching my new valentine to my bedroom door.  It’s wonderful.  I love it.  It’s pink and it has a big heart, with lots of stickers and authentic Benjamin & Liam artwork on it.  It is my most favorite Valentine’s gift I’ve ever gotten.  I feel so loved, and I feel so amazed by my thoughtful, loving, kind 3 year old son who wanted to make sure that I got a special heart on my door for Valentine’s Day, too.

Christmas in February

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, but today is still Christmas in our house.  Our Christmas decorations (minus the tree which we took down a few weeks ago, and the wreath which came down today) are still up, but that isn’t what I mean.  Benjamin and Liam each received another Christmas gift today.


Books for Benjamin

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Before Liam was born, we bought and borrowed a number of books about getting a new sibling, and they really seemed to help Benjamin understand what was going on.  So, last year, as we started to prepare for our astonishingly adventurous move abroad, I wanted to get a book to help with that change, but I couldn’t find anything that was really appropriate.  So I wrote one for him.  It was short and simple, and it explained all of the changes he would be experiencing over the coming months.  I explained about how our things would get packed, the movers would come, we’d say goodbye to our house, we’d stay at Grandma’s for a while and then we’d go to the airport.  I explained about how Bailey would ride in a crate (but would still be on our airplane, even though we couldn’t see him), how he’d get to watch tv, eat and sleep on the plane.  I explained about finding a new house here, having our things delivered (luckily I didn’t specify a time frame) and how we’d make friends, travel and have visitors while we were here.  He loved his book then, and he still loves it now.


Sick kids

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

It’s a good thing that it’s a Saturday.  It’s a good thing that we didn’t have any plans today:  none at all — Dan even went to the grocery store yesterday evening, which is our “every Saturday” thing.  It’s good that it was really cold outside (about 15 as a high) so we didn’t feel like we were missing out on park weather or anything.  All of these things are good because we spent the day inside with a vomiting preschooler.


To the outhouse

Friday, February 10th, 2012

This is our eighth day of having only a semi-functional toilet in our house.

Thus far, I’ve refrained from writing about this, because most likely no one wants to read about a broken toilet.  But I think I’m on the verge of having post traumatic stress flashbacks to our early days of living in a small hotel room here in Vienna.  This is completely different — we had functional bathrooms in both of our temporary apartments – but for some reason it brings me right back to that sense of transience and instability.