Sunday, May 26, 2013

Alexa makes friends

Alexa has been having a blast playing with all of my friend's kids! On Friday, she met Dakota and Lily and was just in awe of the two of them.  Saturday she met the Patti girls and played so hard all afternoon. We even had our first Girl's Day, including cool tutus from Handmade Princess Tutus.
Alexa spent so much time wiggling around, cooing up a storm and following the girls around that she slept through the night!!

                                                          Josi, Alexa and Juliana

                                                             Three pretty princesses!

I can't wait to see how she is when she meets all of her Great Aunts and Uncles next weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

We're HERE!!!

After a very long journey we finally arrived to my mom's late Thursday night. Alexa did an AMAZING job on the plane. She ate, she slept, she played...rinse and repeat, for the entire flight. I'm so proud and so happy that she wasn't the screaming baby on the plane! (Yup, we had one of those...and a screaming toddler.)

Everyone was waiting for us when we got to my mom's - my Pop, his wife, my cousins, my nephew, my aunt and if course my mom, brother and stepdad. It was so great to see everyone and they of course were so excited to see Alexa. Alexa, however, was exhausted and cranky and not in the mood for visitors. I'm sure next time she sees everyone will go much better. It was just very overwhelming after a long day of traveling.

We've got so much going on the next couple of days, but I wanted to put up a quick post. I hope everyone has a nice weekend in Austria and a great long weekend in the US!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Family Picture

I am obsessed with taking pictures of Alexa. It doesn't matter what time of day, what she is doing, or where we are...I am always clicking away. She's three months old today and I've already taken over 1400 photos on my iPhone, plus an easy 200-300 pictures on my father in-laws fancy camera. Somehow, we never manage to get a family picture. I'm pretty sure one exists from the first couple of days after Alexa's birth, but I can't seem to find it (*cough...don't ever want anyone to see it...cough*). The next family picture we have is from a barbecue we went to last weekend. The first couple only included the top of Alexa's head...I guess I need to work on my self-portrait photography!

Any tips on how to get an infant to actually pay attention in a family photo?

Here was the best one. Obviously I plan on framing it.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Hi, my name is Danielle and I'm a...

After a long and hard day of bean raising, or a short and easy day, I like to engage in what I call some chocolate tasting. Now, that might be putting it a little lightly...I realize this, but my denial is what makes it acceptable for me to go out the next day and buy another chocolate bar...or three. I am a chocoholic. I can't help myself.

Pre-pregnancy I was a smoker. I loved being a smoker. I tried quitting pre-pregnancy and I just turned into an evil, mean and bitchy person. No one wanted to be around me. In fact, I didn't want to be around myself! But, alas, I got pregnant and quit immediately. It was the easiest (HAHAHAHA) thing I had ever done. Well, the decision to quit was the easiest thing I had ever decided, but the actual act of quitting was incredibly difficult. I succeeded though and that is all that counts.

I have a very addictive personality. The fact that I am not an alcoholic or a total stoner is amazing even to me. I click pens like a lunatic. I'm addicted to deodorant. And I am currently addicted to chocolate. Here in Austria we have the 300 gram Milka bar. This is like seven Hershey bars. I can eat a 300 gram Milka bar in about ten minutes. I have an illness. I have honestly tried stopping myself, but the sun goes down and my chocolate craving just takes over my body. I try to tell myself that the 22 minutes of Tae Bo I did in the morning allows me to have a few small squares, but then the next thing I know, 3/4 of the candy bar is gone.

I have even tried switching to disgusting white chocolate since the milk chocolate seems to upset Alexa's stomach. I am now addicted to white chocolate. I don't even like the taste of it, but I have to have at least one candy bar a night. The white chocolate bars I buy in the smaller 100 gram size (about 2 1/3 Hershey bars) and I rationalize that this is okay and even better because before I was eating an entire 300 gram chocolate bar every night, now I'm only eating a 100 gram bar. I am sick in the head. And yet I wonder why I've stopped losing weight and none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit.

Thanks Milka. You're ruining my life.

Hi, my name is Danielle and I'm a chocoholic.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Packing for a bean

Ok, so the suitcase is officially packed. I'm pretty sure that all of my stuff would have easily fit in a carry on with room to spare. Alexa, however, could have easily filled a huge suitcase to the brim (and this is packing lightly!).  Between, bibs, burp cloths and extra diapers, I'm surprised there was any room for my stuff at all! We're traveling for three weeks, the Baby Packing List says to pack two outfits for every day you are gone. That would be 30 outfits for her! Luckily, she will be spoiled rotten in the US, so I've packed 8 outfits (including jammies). She'll be fine. It's all the little stuff that ends up taking up all of the room. Socks, sun hats, her blanket (which I can't forget to pack!)...

This is my section of the suitcase...(including shoes and toiletries)

This is Alexa's stuff...(suitcase, plus diaper bag and sling carrier - not shown: stroller)

Monday, May 20, 2013

8 Greatest Things About My Baby

1. When she smiles at me my heart melts all over the place.

2. She is actually starting to coo a bit, so I no longer feel like I'm talking to myself all day long.

3. She is the cutest thing EVER!! (I'm kind of biased.)

4. She is starting to recognize voices and faces and she just lights up when it is someone familiar.(Grandma, Oma, Uncle Joe)

5. I get to do all kinds of cool projects with her and she is still too small to refuse!

6. She does something new almost every single day and watching her learn and grow is unbelievably amazing.

7. Mocking her when she cries makes her stop crying and start smiling instead!

8. Even when I act like a sleep deprived lunatic, she'll giggle, smile, or just look at me and I know that every second of sleeplessness has been worth it.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More Teething Tips

The teething process is just that, a process. So far we are going on two weeks of irritable, cranky, gum hurting baby. I wish these teeth would just pop through already! At our pediatrician's appointment on Friday we discovered that Alexa actually has FIVE teeth all trying to come in at the same time. FIVE! As if getting one tooth at a time isn't bad enough, she has to try and be an overachiever and get five at once! Well, this officially put me on the hunt for something to soothe her gums and help those teeth pop through. In Terrible, Horrible, Rotten, Evil Teething I talked about some different things that we had tried using as are some new things that we have tried:

Bibs - Who knew that bibs not only caught the drool from teething, but also work as an awesome teether!
Carrots - Carrots are cold, hard, and AWESOME for soothing little teething gums. (I'm also hoping that they will help "encourage" the teeth to pop through!)

I have also bought some teething tablets (Osanit) and gum numbing gel (Dentinox). So far, I don't really think that the Dentinox works very well, but Alexa seems to like the Osanit teething tablets.

All by myself...

This has been a relatively trying week. Michael went back to working in Vienna all week long, leaving me alone at home to take care of Alexa. Please don't get me wrong, I LOVE being home with her and wouldn't want to be anywhere else, but I count on the break that comes at 5 o'clock when Michael gets home from work. I depend on that nice, long, hot, relaxing shower to wash the stress of the day away and just for that "Me Time." It doesn't matter if I spend 30 minutes on the computer, or watching TV, or even going for a walk. I just need some down time.

I kind of see myself as Superwoman. I've always been very independent and self-reliant. As long as I had my mental support system (a.k.a. the greatest friends ever), then I was good to go. There wasn't a situation that I couldn't get through. Being home alone with an infant is trying. You don't realize how important it is to take five minutes for yourself or to just get a break.  I didn't realize how much I depended on Michael just to hold Alexa for a few minutes so I could take a shower, make dinner or be able to go to the bathroom without worrying that she's going to start crying. I didn't realize how important it was, it is, for me to have another adult to talk to. Even on the best days when crying is at a minimum, it is still a long and hard day. I have always had respect for my friends that are single parents and now I have even more respect for them. They are both mom and dad 24/7 with no breaks and no one to give them a break. You guys are AMAZING!

The next three weeks I'll be on my own (at night time) with Alexa while we are on vacation. I just hope she keeps sleeping as well as she has been so that I am able to get some sleep too! Wish us luck! This will be a big week of firsts for Alexa:
     First time on an airplane,
     First time leaving the country,
     First time in the United States,
     First time seeing all of her uncles and grandparents in the US (my mom is the exception),
     First time going on a road trip (CT to DE)

And I'm pretty sure that this is the short list. There will be so many new and exciting things happening in the next few weeks. Be ready for pictures, lots and lots of pictures!!!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Husband turned Daddy - Sorry it's going to be significantly harder to play videogames with a baby strapped to your chest.

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

There is so much controversy surrounding vaccinations for infants and young children. Whether to vaccinate your child is a very important decision that every parent is faced with. How many vaccines do you allow at one time? Should you follow the CDC's Recommended Immunization Schedule or in my case the Recommended Immunization Schedule from Austria or do you delay or spread out the vaccines? What benefits come from either choice? What negative aspects exist? The CDC recommends following their guideline for immunizing your children from birth through age 6 in order to prevent putting your child at "...risk of becoming ill with vaccine-preventable diseases." The CDC's Recommended Immunization Schedule includes the same vaccinations as the Austrian Immunization Schedule, with the exception of Varicella, however, the Austrian schedule is much lighter. Immunizations, in the first year, are given at 7 weeks, 3, 5 and 12 months of age and are generally only given one at a time.

For my husband and I, vaccinating was an easy choice. We have both been vaccinated against all childhood diseases without a problem, so it was not a question as to whether or not our daughter would also receive the same vaccinations. What we did discuss with our doctor was the immunization schedule and how not to overload her system all at once. Luckily, we found that the suggested vaccination schedule here in Austria fit with what we were looking evenly spread out schedule of vaccines.  The Vaccination Debate is one that has been going on for centuries and still people: doctors, parents, governments remain at a stand still. Vaccines must be given or consequences are faced; such as not being allowed to register your child for school. We have been very lucky. I wish all parents felt as involved in the decision of how many, what, and when to vaccinate their children and were not forced by a government mandate to vaccinate such young children so heavily.

Alexa received her first round of what I call "heavy duty" vaccines and she has been sad, sleepy and feverish all afternoon and evening. It's heart breaking to see her so unhappy and feeling so bad, but the alternative is unimaginable. I, personally, think that vaccinating is the right choice for our family, but if we were living in the US then I would most definitely spread out the vaccination schedule. I think little immune systems work hard enough fighting off simple germs in the environment and to overload them with so many other germs is just asking for trouble. I know many people in the US who have followed the recommended schedule without a problem, but I think it would make it easier for me to sleep at night knowing I had spread those immunizations out a little bit.

I'm hoping my little nugget is feeling better in the morning. I prefer to see her smiling and not crying.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A travel bean

Next Thursday, my little string bean and I will be leaving for the US to visit friends and family for a few weeks. I have been trying to plan out in my head what I'll need to bring for myself and for Alexa for our trip. Now, normally I can fill a large suitcase just with clothes and shoes for myself. This trip, however, I could probably just bring a carry on with my clothes in it because I'm at that awful in-between stage of post pregnancy where nothing fits. I still can't fit into any of my regular jeans, shorts or pants, and most of my shirts are now too tight in the boob area. I know what you're thinking..."just wear maternity clothes!" If only life were that easy! Most of my maternity clothes are now too big. I still have a left over baby bump, but it's not quite big enough to rock most of my maternity pants. One pair is passable and I live in them or my yoga pants. I have been searching and searching for some kind of jeans or capri pants in my new in-between size, but apparently they don't exist here in Austria. APPARENTLY, Austrian chicks pop out kids and immediately go back to stick figure sizes! That is so not me.

Anyway, I've found a packing list on Baby Center that looks pretty decent, so I think I might follow it and see how things go. I also know that I don't need to bring quite as many clothes for Alexa as I normally would need because so many family and friends have bought a bunch of stuff for her. This, hopefully, will make packing a little easier.

Packing Checklist for Traveling with Baby

Pre-birth I was so excited about my trip to the US and not nervous about traveling with an infant at all. Now, I realize that I have booked the worst possible flight imaginable. The layover is nearly impossible and we will be lucky to make our connection. Good thing I've been working out! Maybe I'll be able to sprint from one terminal to the next with a stroller, a baby, her diaper bag and my carry on! (Good luck!) Just thinking about the entire trip makes me a little queasy. I'll be traveling nearly 13 hours alone with a 3 month old. People keep telling me not to worry too much, that not knowing what to expect is the worst part. I just hope my little bean likes the airplane. She's pretty good being calmed down with white noise or sleep machines, so hopefully the hum of the airplane will lull her to sleep and we will have an uneventful trip.

Any suggestions or tips on traveling with infants or what to pack?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Comment Update

Thank you to all of you who have attempted to post a comment on my blog. I know it hasn't been working. Hopefully, I have fixed the problem and now you can all comment to your hearts delight!

Terrible, Horrible, Rotten, Evil Teething!

I finally figured out the problem, but I'm having some trouble actually solving the problem. She's teething. Teething sucks. I hate teething. Teething needs to take a hike! We've gotten teething gel and teething tablet thingies. I'm not actually convinced that either one work or are helping at all, but I am going to keep trying them because something has got to give. It's been two nights now since I have slept for more than an hour or two. I am cranky. I am tired. Plus, I feel like a horrible mom because I'm getting angry at her for crying. She's in pain and evil mommy is getting mad. Who does that?? I am such a jerk!

I've googled a whole bunch of different teething tips and I'm planning on trying ALL OF THEM! So far we've tried:

Teething toys put in the fridge - She likes these
Teething binky from MAM - even the stage 1 is too big for her, two thumbs down
Cool teether from MAM - too big for her, can suck on a corner if I hold it, but still isn't that fond of it
Wooden toys - Not at all, two thumbs down
Cold, wet wash cloth - undecided
My finger - LOVE at first tooth

I also ordered some Razbaby special teething binkies from the US. They will arrive right before we do, so I'll keep you all updated on how she likes them.

Ok, so I need to give a special shout out to my mother-in-law. She has been sooooo amazing this week helping out with Alexa and giving me a little "find your sanity and regroup" break. I am so appreciative for her help. With Michael in Vienna, I am quickly and certainly losing my mind a lot faster than normal.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Training Mommy

I'm pretty convinced that my 11 week old is trying to train me...and succeeding at it. She cries, I jump up and run to her. She cries her hungry cry, I go and feed her. She cries in a different way, I jump up super fast and run to her. She wines, I slowly make my way over to her. Any way you spin it, she's clearly the one making all the calls. For a few days, she let's me think I'm in charge and then just when I think I've got it all figured out BAM a new training session begins.

For a little over a week she was on the most amazing schedule to date. She was sleeping at night from about 7:30/7:45pm-5:30/6:00am and only waking up once to nurse around 3:30/4:30am and would go right back to sleep after she was done. She woke up happy and playful in the morning and would hang out for a couple hours, nurse and then take an awesomely long nap (2 hours or so!!). She'd wake up happy as can be from her nap, cooing and playing in her crib just waiting for mommy to come and get her, and then we would play more, read books, you name it. She was alert and happy and interested in looking at the pictures in the book, looking at what was going on outside, actually paying attention (as much attention as a 2 1/2 month old can give) to whatever was going on around her. She'd then either take a couple shorter naps in the afternoon or be a rock star and take another 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon. It was seriously the best week ever!! Then Monday arrived.

NOTE: Anytime you think your baby is finally on a schedule, BEWARE!! That schedule is about to do a 180 and leave you feeling even more exhausted and zombie-like than you already were. So many of my friends warned me about these schedule scheming babies, but did I listen?? Nope. I thought, my baby will be so awesome and will be on a permanent schedule by the time she's a month old! When that didn't happen, I bought myself some time by saying, "Well, she's only a month old, maybe we'll try again when she's 6-8 weeks old." Well friends, my little butter bean is 11 weeks old and she still makes up her own schedule and it still changes just as soon as I get used to it!

Alexa's awesome schedule turned into my biggest nightmare. From every 4-5 hour nursing sessions which lasted MAX 15-20 minutes, we have now reverted to every 2 hour feedings that last an easy hour. AN HOUR!!! She cries when she's hungry, she cries while she's eating and she cries after she's done. She cries when she's playing, when she's being held, and when she's not being held. My happy little angel has turned into a starving, crying velociraptor.

How many of you have your little ones on a great schedule? What is that schedule?  I thought I had Alexa on a schedule, but really, I'm on her schedule and it is ever changing. Most of the time I feel like I am barely keeping up. Maybe one day she'll train me to sleep through the night again. I wonder what that will be like?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

5 Mommy fails

1. If part of your baby's bedtime routine is getting into jammies before being fed, don't think that you can just slip them into their pj's at the next diaper change (an hour before bedtime) and they won't be expecting the boob and bed to follow.

2. Leaving the house with a diaper bag that has NO diapers in it.

3. Only remembering to put one breast pad in and going out in public. (Thank god I made it home before I leaked everywhere!)

4. Leaving the house without a hat on your baby. (This is a major no-no here in Austria!)

5. Waking up a sleeping baby. NEVER, EVER DO THIS!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Baby Birth Control

Who needs birth control when you have a newborn? No one, that's who. You barely get any sleep at night so you are exhausted beyond belief. Any and all energy goes into caring for your little coffee bean or trying to take a shower or brush your teeth. The house is a mess, there's dirty laundry everywhere and for god's sake can someone please vacuum??

Even though sex was the last thing on my mind for the first few weeks after Alexa's birth, those thoughts do start creeping in again. And if your husband is anything like mine, they get a voice too. A loud voice.

Now for those of you moms out there, you know that you can't have sex for 6-8 weeks after the birth of your little bean, or until your doctor gives you the thumbs up. I could still barely walk 6 weeks after Alexa's birth, so sex was not even on the table. For those of you who didn't know that, it's true, write it down and then add a few weeks because that will be when you might be ready for sex again. Maybe.

I finally had my "Post birth" checkup at 7 1/2 weeks postpartum and was given the all clear from my doctor. I wanted to be informed, so we discussed the different birth control options I had. I was, however, shocked and stunned by what my doctor said.  I was told, "Well, if you're breastfeeding..." We do not live in a third world country, we live in Austria.  Apparently, a place with sometimes ridiculous beliefs in old wives tales! My gynecologist literally told me that I wouldn't get knocked up again as long as I was breastfeeding. I also thought I wouldn't get my period as long as I was breastfeeding, but that turned out to be a big fat lie! Anyhow, we've opted for condoms. Wrap it up or get out!

The first time having sex after having a baby is worse than the first time having sex EVER.  Between the fear, anxiety and the's a freaking wonder that people have more than one kid! I hope I haven't traumatized too many of you, it's not bad every time, but that first time is a doozy!

I'm so glad we've opted to use condoms as our birth control and not something more expensive like an IUD or the pill because honestly at least condoms don't have to be taken every day and can just be pulled out when needed. Although finding the time and energy to have sex seems to be somewhat of a problem. When we do have the time and the energy the baby inevitably wakes up, cries, spits out her binky...anything to keep us from actually having sex! It's like she's trying to make sure that she's an only child for a while!

So don't you worry new moms, not only will you probably not enjoy sex for a good while after giving birth, but on the off chance that you would like to engage in some kind of sexual sport with your spouse, partner, or whomever, you won't be able to because baby birth control will stop you every single time.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is my very first time celebrating Mother's Day as a mother. I have to say I'm incredibly excited and I'm feeling very blessed and emotional about FINALLY being a mom and being able to celebrate this day with my daughter and my husband, with MY family. I feel like we are a real family now.

I have wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. I always wanted a huge family too, six kids (HA!) and dogs (yes, plural!) with a beautiful house that had a swing set in the backyard. I finally feel like my dreams are coming true. I am so honored and happy to celebrate this day with my very own daughter.

I would also like to wish my mom a Happy Mother's Day! She is so awesome and came to visit us for 3 weeks shortly after Alexa was born. She was such a huge help and Alexa just adores her. Thanks mom for coming ALL the way out here. Also, thank you for all the sacrifices you made so that Joseph and I had a good life. It wasn't always perfect, but nothing is. I think I'm finally old enough and in a position to understand and truly appreciate all that you did for us. I can't wait to see you again! (Just a few more weeks!!) I hope you have a nice day today. I love you!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. I hope you can see, hug, telephone, skype, or facetime with your mom today. Don't forget to tell her how much you love her! For all those moms in heaven, I hope you're looking down on all of us to see how much we love you and how wonderful we are all growing! I know my Gramma and my Mémé are up there looking down on us today and everyday, watching my little string bean grow and learn.

 I'm a mom!!

 My mother in law with Alexa

 My mom and I

My Gramma and I

 My mom and Alexa

Michael, his mom, his grandma (Omi) and Alexa

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Love Is All You Need?

Bullying is a very real problem around the world today. People, families, churches, schools, political arenas; everyone needs to teach, preach and practice acceptance. We are all different, each of us unique, but still people are picked on, harassed, and terrorized to the breaking point just for being different. Love is love. Gay, straight, pink, purple or green, it is still love.Everyone of us deserves to be loved, and to be allowed to love whomever without consequence.

Please take a few minutes to watch this video. It's about a teenage girl who lives in an upside down world; gay and straight are switched around and everyone in her world is gay, but she is the outsider, she is straight. How would you feel if you were in her shoes?

Love Is All You Need?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weaning Bean's mom

I swore that when I had kids I would never let them do a whole list of things that I thought other parents were out of their minds for allowing their kids to do. At the top of this list was letting your baby/toddler/8 year old sleep in your bed. I've lectured parents about how horrible this behavior is, preached about the importance of children learning independence, and so on and so forth. Let me tell you, Guru Danielle hasn't even had permission to visit my house since I've given birth! I get it now. Once you become a parent you sleep when you can and where you can. If that means little Joey or little Susy is sleeping on top of you, next to you, in your bed, on the couch or the whole family is cuddled up on the dog's bed, then guess what, that's just fine! They call breast milk gold, but sleep, sleep is like a bucket full of diamonds! Get it how you can, however you can.

Now, I haven't totally gone back on all of my "When I have kids, I'm never going to..." I mean, on a technicality I never let her sleep in my bed, my marriage bed that is. Instead, I put a bed in her room and we sleep there :) I've slept in her room with her since we brought her home from the hospital. The first couple of weeks, she even slept in the bed with me, but would sleep in her crib for naps and initially at bedtime, but as soon as she'd wake up I'd stick her in bed with me! Honestly, I think it comforted me as much as it did her. I liked knowing that she was right there, I could stare at her, obsessively check to make sure she was still breathing,  and of course, we got to have some really good snuggle time.

Well, last night I decided it was time for me to move back to my bedroom. (I've been deciding this every night for the last three weeks.) I finally made the move...checked the baby, got in my pajamas, checked the baby, got a glass of water, looked at the baby, brought my pillow back to my own bed, stared at the baby, started thinking I was crazy and stupid for even thinking I could sleep in my own bed in my own room, stared longer at the baby...she was sleeping so soundly and she was going to stay sleeping, thought about how uncomfortable the bed in her room is, looked at the bed, looked at the baby, went into my room!!, went and checked on the baby, double checked the baby monitor in her room and in our room, did several tests with the help of my husband to make sure I could hear her when she woke up, kissed my husband good night, kissed my sleeping bean good night, and went to bed...IN MY OWN BED! This was a big step for me. I'm pretty sure she didn't even notice that I wasn't sleeping three feet away from her crib. I noticed, but only because every coo and binky suck didn't wake me up! I slept 5  whole hours in a row before she woke up to nurse and then she went back to sleep so I was able to go back to sleep to...for another 2 1/2 hours!! I got 7 1/2 hours of ONE NIGHT! This is a miracle! Why didn't I think about moving back to my own bed sooner? I know why, I wasn't ready.

Sometimes it's really hard being a mom. You're afraid of everything, even sleeping in your own bed in your own room.

Did any of you co-sleep? I'd love to hear your stories too! The good, the bad, and the ugly, sharing is nice ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

30 Best Places to be a mom! I'm feeling thankful...

 The 30 Best Places In The World to be a Mother

A friend of mine sent me this article about The 30 Best Places in the World to be a Mother. Thanks Stell, it was quite an interesting read. From 176 countries, the United States places 30th, while Austria is in 11th place. Save the Children evaluated all 176 countries based on maternal health, children's well-being, educational status, economic status and political status. I feel fortunate to have been raised in a country placing in the top 30, as well as, to be raising my child in one that places in the top 20.

I was born and raised in the United States, in Connecticut to be exact. I have a deep love of my country, but I am also a realist. The United States has changed big time since I was a kid. Growing up, we were allowed to play within a whistle blow of my grandfather's house. You hear the whistle, you have five minutes to get home. We played in the street, we played with ALL of the neighborhood kids, and we did this with a ball or our bikes, never with fear, anxiety, or worry that something would happen to us if we were out of our parent's sight. Being a kid was awesome most of the time. Things have DRASTICALLY changed, and I know I don't have to explain why, I don't understand why, but I surely don't need to explain what I mean here.

I grew up with a working mom. My brother and I caught the bus to go to school, went to daycare after school and my mom or my grandma would pick us up and bring us home. Growing up, working and living in the US, I expected to raise my children in a similar fashion...get pregnant, have baby, go back to work 6-8 weeks later. I never knew it could be any different! Stay at home moms were a rare commodity.

On and off since 2008, I have lived in Austria. I originally came here as an Au Pair with a family I knew in the US. While here, I met my husband Michael. I moved back permanently in the summer of 2010 and Michael and I were married in the fall. In February 2013, we welcomed our first child, Alexa, to the world. Since falling pregnant, I have learned an enormous amount about raising and having children in Austria. It is AWESOME.

In Austria, eight weeks before the official due date of your child you go into Mutterschutz, maternity leave. Mutterschutz lasts until eight weeks after your child is born. We're talking 16 weeks here, of paid, awesomeness. This is paid by your company. Before the last week of Mutterschutz you then register for Karenz, more maternity leave or parental leave because either the mother OR father can take this paid time off. You have options...there's the 12 month option, the 24 month option, or the 36 month option. Yes, that's right, 1, 2, or 3 years of paid parental leave. Paid for, by the amazing social insurance system.

Now when I first discovered this insane system, all I thought was, "What the heck am I going to do at home for TWO YEARS???" Please keep in mind that I have worked as an Infant room teacher, a nanny, an Au Pair, and I was a babysitter from the time I was taller than the other kids until I left for Austria! This idea of a mom staying home for two whole years just boggled my mind! Why would anyone want to do that? I have always been active, independent and very busy working and earning my own money, what would I do for two years at home? Surely, the Austrian people are crazy. Or so I thought....

Alexa at 8 weeks old.

The day my daughter turned eight weeks old I cried. I realized how blessed I am to live in Austria and be raising my daughter here. Yes, we are thousands and thousands of miles away from my entire family and my friends and yes that gets to me ALL THE TIME, but look at all we have here... If we were living in the US, the following Monday would have been my first day back to work and my daughter's first day of daycare. She was so small! How could I have ever left her?? It made me truly understand what all of those mom's had gone through leaving there little bundle with me at daycare and going back to work for 6-8 hours! I have not been away from Alexa for more than four hours! How could I ever leave her for a WHOLE day???

I am very thankful that I am able to stay at home with her for at least the next two years. It is something I surely will not take for granted!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Things you shouldn't do while wearing a baby in a wrap...

A friend of mine gave me a bunch of baby stuff that her son had grown out of when she found out I was pregnant. Among all of the clothes, toys, bathtub, and array of other baby paraphernalia was a Moby Wrap. For those of you who, like me a few months ago, have no idea what the heck a Moby Wrap is or what you do with it, I'm here to tell you, I don't really know either, but I'm winging it and it seems to be going ok.

Apparently "baby wearing" is the new fad when it comes to baby transportation and baby carrying. You no longer need to use your arms to carry your child, you can just wear your baby, like your favorite blue sweater! This idea is both very strange and very appealing to me, so I attempted to figure out the Moby. It can't be that hard, right? Wrong!! The Moby Wrap is 10+ feet of very soft, comfy fabric that you have to fold, bunch, and wrap in a certain way to get it to a more manageable and baby friendly size. This took me weeks, literally, of aggravating practice to get the thing on the right way. Alexa was about nine weeks old when I finally felt comfortable enough to wear her in it, that and the fact that a gas pain induced screaming fit required me to wrap that thing like I'd never wrapped it before, and Voila! a functioning wrap and a very calm and happy baby. I'm not claiming to be a professional or anything, but I can now wrap it two ways: the Hug Hold and the Kangaroo Hold. My little bean burrito prefers to ride Kangaroo style so I wrap her up snug and we bounce on the gym ball or go for a walk, or just hang out around the house.

This is a picture of the Moby Wrap:

Now, as cool and functional as the Moby Wrap is, there are just some things a mom, well, this mom...has a great deal of difficulty doing. One of those things is eating or drinking. I've basically discovered that in order to eat anything while wearing my baby, it must be a solid, non-crumbling food. This is not leaving me with many options. I have so far dropped quinoa all over my sleeping baby, mashed potatoes have been found in her hair, and yogurt splattered on her cheek. This is not good. And I swear I am not that much of a slob! Pre-baby wearing I was really good at feeding myself. The only food I have been able to successfully eat and not get all over my baby is carrots. Maybe I've come up with the next popular postpartum diet:  wear your baby, eat only carrots and lose weight instantly!!

Hopefully I'll learn how to eat in a less sloppy way as I continue to wear my baby all over the place. Until then, maybe I should be the one wearing a bib?!


Hi there! Thanks for checking out my blog. My name is Danielle and I am a first time mom. Mom, wow, just typing that word next to "I am..." still seems strange. Anyhow, this blog is all about the trials and tribulations I face learning to cope and adapt to motherhood. My amazingly adorable daughter, Alexa, is the bean. She has been the bean, string bean, coffee bean...every type of bean you can imagine, since I was around ten weeks pregnant. Once we get to know one another a little better then maybe I'll tell you about the horror and torture that was my pregnancy. It was, by the way, the longest pregnancy known to man...even my friends will attest to that.

This is honestly the best picture of me that exists since I've given birth. Pregnancy and motherhood have made me one of the most unphotogenic people out there. It's kind of horrifying what every 3-hour feedings and ten weeks of sleepless nights do to a person.