Irked

I just returned from a weekend away, just the two of us, to find out that my youngest son, almost 6-month-old Puppet, had a trip to the ER. He is fine, but I’m still irked that the caretakers, my mother and my mother-in-law, did not call us. There is guilt laden all over this. My husband and I feel guilty because we got snowed in and couldn’t return home until a day later than expected. If we had been home as planned, none of this would have happened. The grandmas feel guilty as it happened under their care. I co-sleep with my son, so during our absence my mother-in-law had been taking my place in bed with Puppet. The afternoon of the incident, she had tried in vain to put Puppet down for a nap in the playpen or Scooby’s crib, but he just wasn’t having it. He fell asleep straight away once she put him down in our bed. We have a guardrail on his side of the bed, so she placed a bunch of memory foam pillows along the opposite side without a guardrail. The grandmas apparently forgot we had a video baby monitor, even though the cam was on the nightstand and the monitor on the bar in the kitchen. The grandmas said they were checking in on him from time to time, but low and behold they were startled by screams from the bedroom and Puppet was on the floor.

They said he had a red mark on his forehead about the size of a nickel. He screamed very loud but did eventually stop. They were very panicked, but they did NOT call us. They didn’t want to worry us as we couldn’t get off the mountain then anyway. They feared we would try and possibly kill ourselves in the process.  Now, this really bothers me. He is my child and my husband and I should be making the decisions for our children. We were not incapacitated nor out of reach by phone or even email. They seemed to call everybody else but us his parents. My mother even called the hospital she works for to talk to the ER doctor who was over 90 miles away. They spoke to the on-call nurse for Puppet’s pediatrician and everyone directed them to the local emergency room. My sister was called and my father was called who met my mother-in-law at the ER, while my mother stayed home with Scooby.

The ER doctor examined him and found that Puppet was okay. My father asked for a CT scan and the doctor said that was too much radiation for a baby with no obvious sign of major trauma. The doctor explained that babies are like bouncy balls. My father insisted on an x-ray of his head which they did which came back normal. I’m annoyed that my father was calling the shots when we didn’t even leave him in his care. When Scooby had a bad face plant onto concrete which resulted in a big bump in between his eyes and a nosebleed, we rushed him to urgent care. That doctor concluded that he was fine with no broken bones and that an x-ray was unnecessary. Puppet landed on carpet and had no bump at all. Granted, it was a higher fall than Scooby’s. If we were at least on the phone during the exam, we would not have pushed for an x-ray and would have been happy to hear that he had no other symptoms and wasn’t crying anymore.

We did leave our children in capable hands and they did do what they thought was best for our children. While away, we did have peace of mind knowing that, but we also left explicit instructions that in an emergency such as this we were to be called. I just don’t appreciate being left in the dark because of good intentions. Not wanting to worry us is not a good enough excuse. There was not much we could have done from there, but I would have liked to have called the shots in regards to his care. I’m not happy that he was x-rayed when the doctor didn’t originally order one. I feel bypassed and excluded from the decision making process and even a little disrespected. I feel like our parents felt they knew better and they could handle it on their own. What were they waiting for? What if the news was bad? Were they going to call us when he was dead, when there would be nothing we could do?

The more I think about it, the more annoyed and angry I become. We even have a child protection plan in place and that was completely out the window. What is really blowing my mind right now is why the ER doctor or a hospital representative didn’t contact us by phone. The hospital wanted to know all kinds of information about us that the grandparents just did not have the answers to, but they definitely could have provided them with our phone numbers. We were still available by phone, just not present.

I am thankful that Puppet is healthy and safe, but this is all after the fact. What are your thoughts?

Carnival Traditions in Germany, or Why Bavarians Eat Donuts After the Christmas Season

The German Teacher is here to tell you!

In the United States, if someone mentions either Mardi Gras or Carnival, we’re likely to think of the Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, Louisiana, or we might think of the carnival festivities in Brazil.  Carnival is celebrated here in Germany and throughout Europe.  In the Rhineland region of Germany, it’s called Karneval.  Particularly famous is the Cologne Carnival, and most small towns in the region have their own festivities.

Here in Bavaria and Swabia, it’s more commonly called Fasching or Fastnacht.  To be honest, I don’t know as much about the customs here in southern German as much as I do about the customs in the Rhine region, but just like Mardi Gras and Carnival, it has to do with preparing for the Lenten season.

Donuts, Bavarian Style

Carnival celebrations start in early November but cease during Advent and the Christmas season.   Then on Three Kings Day, January 6th and the twelfth day of Christmas, carnival celebrations begin again.

Throughout the rest of the winter, there are various parties and celebrations, culminating on the last Tuesday before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.  In southern regions of Germany, Mardi Gras is called Faschingsdienstag, which means the Tuesday before fasting.  Other special days include Weiberfastnacht, a day for women to be in power, and Rosenmontag.  On Weiberfastnacht, among other things, women get to cut men’s ties, symbolic of the women taking charge (men are advised to wear an old, unfashionable necktie).  Rosenmontag is the most important parade day of the Cologne carnival.

One of my friends wryly commented to me that carnival is just an excuse for the young people to go out and party.  As with most holidays here, the festivities are rooted in religious traditions, but likely originate from earlier customs.

When I was an exchange student near Cologne, Karneval was taken very seriously – nearly everybody in my little town participated, and we were given a few days off from school.  Our town had its own parade, and I had the chance to dress up and take part.  I distinctly remember getting to waltz in the streets with pretty much everyone in our group, even though I had never danced the waltz in my life!  We also tossed candy to all the kids who lined up to watch the parade.

Nutella-filled Donut

But what about the donuts?  Why do Bavarians eat donuts before Lent begins?

The answer to this question goes back to the religious meaning behind Mardi Gras and Lent.  The Tuesday before Lent is about getting ready to fast (which is why it is called Fasching or Fastnacht in Bavaria) and to give up meat and fatty foods, for example.  The word carnival itself has to do with “carne” or “meat”, so the meaning is similar; Mardi Gras means “fat Tuesday” in French, also referring to fasting during Lent.  Basically, the period leading up to Mardi Gras or Faschingsdienstag is an excuse to revel in excesses before giving them up.  And that’s where the donuts come in.

In other words, a perfect food to enjoy before going on your Lenten fast would be donuts!  Donuts are, after all, cooked in hot oil.  In this part of Germany, they’re called Krapfen.  Yes, go ahead and giggle – the word sounds funny in English. I must confess, whenever I go to our bakery and look at the donuts and ask for Krapfen, the eight-year-old inside me says, “She said Krapfen, tee hee.”  Being non-natives living in Bavaria, I consider it our duty to try everything.  Krapfen are no exception.

How about a glazed donut filled with… Nutella?

If you think this tastes as good as it looks, you would be right.  Rosebud completely agreed, and this particular donut rapidly disappeared.

Rosebud enjoys her Nutella Krapfen

Who Are You Calling Grandma?

I suppose this is a consequence of delayed motherhood and that it was bound to happen sooner or later, but boy, it was a real shock.

Mouse and I were in Gymboree class and Mouse had wandered off. The following ensued:

Do I LOOK like a grandmother? (the correct answer is no)

Teacher: “Mouse, come on over and sit with Grandma!”

Me: “I’m Mommy.”

Teacher: “Oh, sorry! I always thought you were Grandma.”

WHAT???

I’m only 37 years old. I’ll be 38 in June. And I was 35 when Mouse was born. I scoffed at all of the literature that labeled me “Advanced Maternal Age.” I turned down the offer of an amniocentesis to determine my risk level of Down Syndrome since I’d been bumped into a higher category. And I’ve always been told that I look young for my age.

Okay sure, I don’t get carded anymore and nobody really mistakes me for a college student, but really, mistaking me for someone who pulls in a social security check? REALLY?

And the funny thing is that there are two women there who go by “Grandma” (or at least haven’t corrected the teacher yet), and they both look like your typical image of a grandmother–gray hair, um, well okay, it’s hard to describe what makes someone looking like a grandma other than gray hair. But that’s an excellent place to start, since I actually only have a handful of gray hairs. Might that have been a tipoff?

Also, I wear my fun, hip glasses. Okay sure, I kind of dress a bit frumpy. I go for comfort rather than style and I can’t remember the last time I really bought clothes for myself that weren’t for a special occasion or travel. But shouldn’t my fun, hip glasses compensate for that?

Apparently not.

And the funny thing was, the teacher (whom I would estimate is probably 19 or 20) wasn’t even really embarrassed that she’d made this mistake. I mean, I was more shocked than offended, but she barely paused to reflect upon what she said. It was like “Oops! Sorry about the Grandma thing HEY! Who wants to play with bubbles?!”

But I believe in karma. Someday she will probably be walking around with her kid, and I’ll go out of my way to find her and say something like, “Oh, it’s so nice to see you out with your grandchild. Intergenerational relationships are really being lost in this day and age.”

Ha.

To Binky Or Not to Binky

From The Cooking Mama.

Goose is almost 21 months old and yes, she’s still using a binky. We weaned from breastfeeding ages ago, she’s showing a mild interest in potty training, and she sleeps through the night pretty reliably, but Goose’s attachment to the binky (or mimi, as she calls it) seems to be one of the last holdouts from her infancy. And I can’t stop waffling about taking it away.

Greedy Goose

I’m definitely feeling pressure from well-meaning (but nevertheless annoying) friends and family. Their concerns range from teeth problems to speech issues, and then there are some people just don’t like how it looks. To be honest, I’m not crazy about my kid running around with a colorful piece of plastic hanging off of her face, either, but I wouldn’t dream of telling someone else that their child looks silly (which has actually happened to us at the grocery store – thanks for your Very Important Opinion, lady in line behind us). As for the potential for speech problems, that has definitely not an issue we’ve encountered, as Goose is extremely verbal, even talking emphatically around her mimi, which I also admit to disliking. I am concerned about misaligned teeth – although studies have shown that crooked teeth typically occur when pacifier use or thumb-sucking continue while permanent teeth are emerging – but mostly because my own teeth are wonky.

While there are plenty of valid reasons for getting rid of the pacifier, I find it hard to take the cold-turkey approach because Goose’s mimi is such a source of comfort for her. She hasn’t really taken to any of the “lovies” we’ve offered to her, but she would definitely carry if not suck on a mimi all day long if I let her. So for now, in an attempt to ease the transition, we are restricting the pacifier use to her crib only. We haven’t been perfect about it (sometimes I cave when she’s really upset, and daddy needs a lot of reminders), but Goose seems to be doing okay with not getting her instant soother every time she’s upset. About half the time, when we get her out of her crib, she tosses the paci in without even being asked. She’ll probably be ready to quit altogether soon, and if it goes anything like weaning did, Goose will basically do it by herself and surprise the heck out of me again. Should she put up more of a fight this time, I have some strategies from moms who have BTDT, like the binky fairy (same concept as the tooth fairy, only the binky fairy leaves a new toy or book), or trading in the binkies for a new toy at the store (I’ve heard that if you get a nice cashier, he or she might agree to play broker and handle the trade for you, making it extra official). Either way, I’m trying not to stress or give myself and Goose an arbitrary deadline for giving up an object that has comforted her since the day she came home from the hospital. And that’s my official stance…for today.

The First Haircut

So we finally got Mouse’s first haircut in Florida. Yes, we traveled all the way from California to Florida for a haircut. What can I say–it was special!

Before...

Mouse had a bunch of fine hair with some adorable curls at the bottom. While I did love his baby soft hair, it was definitely obscuring his sight. But I held out. You see, in Disneyworld in Florida, there’s a working barber shop on Main Street, which we lack here in Disneyland in Southern California. And if you get your first haircut at the barber shop in Disneyworld, you get a complimentary pair of “First Haircut” mouse ears and a certificate of bravery. And Mom also gets a little packet of those adorable baby curls to take home.

Our barber was wonderful. Mouse hates sitting still, so I was a little trepidatious as to how this was going to go. In addition, Train Guy had a traumatic first haircut that involved cutting his little ear and making him fear haircuts for a number of years. I just wasn’t sure how it would go. But the barber gave him about 10 Mickey Mouse stickers to play with. She stuck them all over his chest and belly and legs, and he spent the entire time rearranging his stickers and not even noticing that his hair was being cut.

After!

That Disney–they sure know how to do things right.

Anyway, it’s amazing what a haircut can do. Our baby turned into an actual little boy with his new ‘do. All in all it was a great haircut experience and I’m glad we waited until our trip to Florida, even if people started mistaking him for a girl at the end there.

ANNOUNCING THE WINNER OF OUR HOOT, OWL, HOOT GIVEAWAY!   Rachel, you’re the winner!  Thanks to everyone who entered.  And stay tuned for more giveaways!

Happy Valentine's Day

If you’re like me, you have a busy day — parties with playgroups or at school, dinner plans, trying to find a few minutes with your significant other to actually tell each other you’re still in love.  So, I am giving you a short entry today.  It’s a list of things you can do to make Valentine’s Day special for your young children.

1)  Have a special dessert.  Something you would normally never let your toddler eat.  Think Death by Chocolate.

2)  Dress up your kiddo for the occasion. Admittedly, this is easier with girls, with hearts and bows and pink.  But, with a boy, just put him in a nice red shirt, and everyone will know you remembered what day it is.

3)  Get out the construction paper and make good old fashioned valentines.  You don’t even have to give them away, but cut out paper hearts, cover them with stickers, paper doilies, and marker or crayon drawing, and you have a memorable holiday keepsake.

4)  Take your kid on a date.  Babysitters are super busy on Valentine’s Day.  Pick a different night to go out with your own valentine (think cheaper dinner specials and shorter restaurant waits) and take your kiddo out on a date.  Think about his/her favorite foods and what restaurants won’t be full of couples on romantic dates.

5)  Give your child a valentine.  Dads, give your daughters flowers.  It’s sweet.  And a wonderful tradition.  Buy your kids a small heart full of candy or maybe a Valentine’s-themed book.

6)  Go for the cheese.  Turn on some music and dance the night away with each other.

7)  Have hot cocoa and storytime.  Fireside. 

8)  Call loved ones and let your kids talk on the phone.  Nothing like a long distance “I wuv you” to melt Grandma’s heart.

9)  Make your children a special breakfast.  Maybe try your hand at heart-shaped pancakes.  Hopefully, they’ll turn out better than my attempt this weekend.  (Let’s just say that no amount of 3-year-old imagination could remotely see a heart in any of those pancakes!)

10)  Spend some extra quality time together.  Read one more book at bedtime, or let that bath go an extra couple of minutes.  Just because.

Happy Valentine’s Day, readers!