Leaving My Baby Overnight

After months of putting baby first and marriage second, it was time to spark a bit of Thrasher romance away from home. The hubs and I were planning to take a much needed, long overdue break and (insert gasp) stay at a nice hotel in the city for the night. Without baby. Oh my.

The thought of leaving our DD behind and no parents nearby to jump to her rescue should she need comforting, a warm boob or Papa’s strong shoulders sent shivers down my spine.

Photo: Bend the Light Photography

Yet the circumstances seemed perfect:

  • Grandma is visiting for the week and has proven herself to be worthy, capable and proud to take care of our most precious family member all by herself.
  • A friend of ours works at a nice hotel downtown and helped us get a good deal for the night.
  • Mr Thrasher had a business meeting the next morning at the same hotel. How random is that? (Well, I know it’s not chance but God encouraging us to actually go through with this plan.)

Of course, Emma had to start teething pretty badly a few days ago. Not that she did it on purpose. Poor thing. Despite having been sleeping from 6pm to 5.30am the next morning she’s recently been waking up frequently at night again and hasn’t fallen back asleep without any help. The other night (basically our test drive for grandma) nothing worked: nursing, Ibuprofen, Orajel, chilled pacifier, rocking, lullabies. I ended up padding her back and soothing her (Emma, not grandma) for over an hour while she was lying in her crib fighting sleep. I eventually left the room and left her whimpering for a little while until she finally drifted off.

Sorry, I’m getting distracted. Ha, see how that goes? From starting to write about my marriage and Mr Thrasher, I switch back into mommy mode and write about Baby Thrasher. So how did I prepare for my first overnight stay without baby? Glad you asked.

  • I left a manual or detailed instructions for the babysitter. This is not about being controlling. This is about peace of mind for you AND the person taking care of your baby. Giving them advice on how to manage certain situations or when and what to feed her will make it easier for them to take care of baby.
  • Ready. Set. Pump. I left enough breast milk for the evening, nightly emergency feedings and the next morning.
  • I chose a babysitter who watched baby before. It makes you feel more comfortable and won’t frighten confuse baby when she wakes up and neither Mama nor Papa are around.
  • Communicate. Share your worries, fears and anything that’s on your heart with the babysitter. It will help you get it out of your system.
  • Talk to your husband. Ask him to be patient and understanding.
  • Define what an ‘emergency situation’ entails and when the babysitter should call you.
  • Don’t stress over turning this overnight date with your lover into the sequel to your wedding night. Your only goal should be to have fun and enjoy some quality time. This is not about finding the most romantic restaurant for dinner, looking drop dead gorgeous in a fancy neglige or performing the best sex of your married life. This is simply about being together without any distractions.
I’m gonna spare you the juicy details of our nightly getaway. The only thing I’m gonna say is: It was absofrickinglutely worth it and my husband is HOT!

We Found Nemo :: Infant Swim Classes In San Francisco

Emma loves to splash around in her bath tub. She used to hate bath time as a newborn but now she truly enjoys it.

A kitchen sink replaced Emma's infant bath tub while on vacation.

With the help of a genius tip from one of my dear mommy girlfriends we taught Emma to not be afraid of water. Her advice: Don’t cover baby’s face when washing her hair. If baby gets used to getting a bit of water into her face early, she’ll be fine in the pool later. Wicked smart advice. Of course, we made sure not to get shampoo into her eyes. Neither did we allow for too much water to run down her pretty face.

Bath tub, schmath tub. This past weekend Emma mastered the ultimate challenge: Supported by Papa’s strong arms and spotting a fashionable swimsuit with integrated diaper Emma went for a swim in Aunt Toni’s pool. Needless to say, Papa had more than just taking our baby into the pool in mind and decided to help her conquer any possible fear of water. After a quick blow into her face which led Emma to take a deep breath, he dunked her under water and quickly pulled her back up to the surface. Yes, I almost sh*** my bikini bottoms! My poor little girl. Tortured by her own father.

But once again Papa proved me wrong. Our little Nemo loved it! No tears, no fuss, no scared face.

The next day, we got Emma’s cute whale infant pool ready for her to splash around in. Bare-naked she enjoyed tummy time in grandma’s backyard while kicking the water with her feet. So adorable!

Our little Nemo. (Just before we put on her sunhat.)

Now I’m really excited for Emma to start her swim lessons later this summer. After a bit of research we decided to sign her up at a pool that’s in walking distance from our house. Lessons are cheap compared to various classes in the Bay Area. On that note, allow me to share what I found out about infant swim lessons in San Francisco (and around). The ratio of instructor to infants varies quite a bit per program.

Janet Pomeroy Center, San Francisco
Starting at 6 months, $120 for 45 min classes or $144 for 60 minute classes (8 weeks).

University of SF
Starting at 9 months. Pricing is a bit confusing but it seems like they charge non-members $75 for an 8 week long session. (There website make it sound as if one session costs $75. But that would just be crazy!)

Public Pools, San Francisco
Starting at 2 months, course fees vary but start as low as $49 for a 30 minute class.

La Petite Baleen, San Francisco
“Baby and Me” classes are designed for 2 months-18months and last 30 minutes.

Fees: $88/month in San Francisco, $25 annual membership fee per student. They offer a $5/month discount per student if you choose to pay directly through your bank account, and a 10% discount for families with 3 or more students enrolled (siblings only).

YMCA of San Francisco
Starting at 6 months. Their rates are utterly confusing to me. It says a 30 minute class cost $80 for program members ($50 for facility members). That can’t be the price for one class. Can it? But I couldn’t find any information on the duration of a program

JCCSF
They offer an award-winning swim program and after touring the gym a while ago, I know the pool facility must be excellent. However, membership dues are known to be on the high end so I assume the fees for their swim program will be quite high as well.

Giammona Pool, Daly City
Starting at 6 months. Classes are 30 minutes. Fees are around $55 per course (8 weeks) for residents.
You’ll have to download the Park & Recreation Activity Guide to view the class schedule. They registration process is a bit old school and thus frustrating. They respond to faxes (remember that tool of correspondence?) faster than to emails. You also have to download a form, scan and then fax (or email) it in order to apply for a log in that allows you to sign up online. Or stop by the Park & Recreation office in person.

 

By the time, the swim class starts, Emma will be 8 months old. We would have preferred starting her a few months earlier but, hey, this age will still be great. And I know Papa cannot wait to take her to the pool. (Thank God, ’cause I don’t like swimming in public pools.)

 

Have you started swim lessons with your little dolphin yet? What did you do to introduce your baby to the water and help her conquer any fear?

 

Little Miss Sunshine :: Sunscreen For Babies

Apparently, it was four degrees warmer in Daly City than in San Francisco today. Ha, take that, you haters! :-)

My little Miss Sunshine and me.

On that note, allow me to preach a bit about the use of sunscreen for your baby’s sensitive skin.

It used to be advised that you should not use sunscreen on babies less than six months old, but the American Academy of Pediatrics now states that sunscreen is probably safe to use on younger children, especially if you just use it on small areas of your baby’s skin that is exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing, such as the infant’s hands and face.

Still, younger children should be kept out of direct sunlight because they can burn easily and may not be able to handle getting overheated as well as older children. So even though it is likely safe to use sunscreen on kids less than six months old, it is safer to keep them out of the sun. ~ Source: About. Pediatrics.com

I am an avid advocate of using sunscreen instead of body lotion during the summer months for myself. That way, you get enough moisturizer for your skin but more importantly, you’re already protected before you step out into the sun. And for Emma I’m doing the same. I don’t care if we just head to the mall – I want her to be protected even on the short way from the car to the mall. I believe an adorable sun hat should be an essential item to your diaper bag during those summer days. And here’s why…

Ultra cool UPF 50+ sun protection hat by Comfykid.com

What Is Sunburn?

Sunburn is the result of an ‘overdose’ of UV rays. A first degree sunburn is not noticeable while you’re in the sun. It only shows through a painful, itchy red rash on your skin later. Often, you only see the damage after you brought baby back into the shade. A sun burn can be pretty painful for your baby, and the implications can be even more serious: Dermatological studies show that frequent sun exposure and sun burn in their early childhood can lead to a higher risk for skin cancer.

I have to admit that it happened to me, well, Emma. She got sunburned. I never felt worse in my life when I saw her cheeks turn red after a sunny day during our Easter vacay in Germany. And I did use sun screen! I guess I didn’t use enough or she had wiped it off and I didn’t reapply it soon enough. Lesson learned. For sure.

Should Baby Be In The Sun At All?

Baby skin is extremely thin and sensitive. Therefore, babies should never be exposed to direct sun light. Their skin is still in the process of developing a protection against UV rays. Only 10 to 15 minutes of sun exposure (without sun protection) is enough, to burn baby’s skin. Especially, between 11am and 3pm, when sun rays are most intensive, you should keep baby in the shade (or inside).

So The Shade Is Safe, Right?

Not so fast. Even on a cloudy day, you should keep an eye on baby’s skin. Clouds don’t detain UV rays, the ones who cause sun burn. Who would have known? Parents also often underestimate the intensity of sun light in Spring and Fall. The proper use of pretective sunscreen doesn’t just apply to the summer vacays at the beach but also to play time in the sandbox, the playground, the Sunday picnic with the family or a visit to the zoo.

And did you know that Baby besides being protected from the risk of getting sunburned can also benefit from chilling out in the shade? – 10 to 15 minutes of indirect sun light already prevents Vitamin D deficiency.

Cover Up!

You may not think about the fact that UV rays can get through normal clothing and burn the skin. Clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+ can offer extra protection and peace of mind. The outdoor experts at REI have a thing or two to say about that.

Don’t forget about baby sun hats with a bring. They can be worn in the water or anytime there is direct exposure to the sun to protect your baby’s vulnerable scalp. Go ahead, add those cool shades to baby’s beach outfit. But make sure the sun glasses offer 100 percent UV filtration.

Adventure BanZ Baby sunglasses offer 100% UVA/UVB protection.

How To Use Sunscreen?

  1. Sunscreens should block both UVA and UVB rays. These are called broad-spectrum sunscreens, which should also be hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic so it doesn’t cause a rash or clog the pores, which can cause acne.
  2. Shake the bottle well before you squirt any sunscreen out. This mixes up all the particles and distributes them evenly in the container.
  3. Most adults should use about 35 ml or 1 oz. of sunscreen to cover their whole body. That’s the same amount that would fit into a shot glass. It’s also about the same as an adult handful. Remember, most people don’t apply enough sunscreen. It’s OK to use more than you think you should.
  4. Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out in the sun. This gives the ingredients time to attach to the skin.
  5. Cover all of your skin that’s exposed to the sun. This includes your back, ears, behind your knees and your legs.
  6. Some studies say it’s a good idea to reapply your sunscreen after you’ve been in the sun for 30 minutes. This makes it more likely you’ll get the places you might have missed.
  7. Definitely reapply the same amount of sunscreen every two hours, even if you haven’t been sweating or in the water.
  8. Reapply sunscreen as soon as you get done swimming, toweling off, or sweating heavily. Yep, the whole 1 oz.

Happy tanning!

 

 

Disclaimer:

The opinion expressed in this post is my own. I am not a doctor and claim no medical expertise. What works for me, may not work for you. Blog owner will not be held liable for the use of any information found on this blog post.

Date Night

Screw it! Forget bedtime, bedtime routine and lullabies – we’re going out!

After only little success with our sleep training efforts so far, I thought we might as well just be out and about with our little terrorist angel. Maybe 7.30pm was just too early for bedtime? She had been taking three naps during the day and is in general a happy baby. Could it be that she was getting enough rest during the day and didn’t need to be put down that early?

Let me tell you, I LOVED getting dressed up a bit, putting on a face and my fancy earrings, and taking my baby daddy out for dinner. I got Emma ready for ‘bedtime’ – washed her, put on her jammies and bundled her up in the car seat – hoping she’d fall asleep in the restaurant.

Well, she fell asleep in the car on the drive over there, but then decided to entertain the guests around us while we devoured our sushi. I took 4 ounces of bottled organic German breast milk with me so that I wouldn’t have to mess with the nursing cover and all that jazz. When Emma showed the first signs of hunger, Papa gave her the bottle while he sipped his Big Daddy IPA. She gulped down the content of the bottle and went right back to making bubbles and talking to the couple at the table next to us.

On the ride home, she finally fell asleep and stayed asleep for 1 1/2 hours after we carried her inside the house. At 11.30pm when I thought it’s time to put her down for her night sleep and change her diaper one last time, she woke up only to go right back to sleep during the last night feeding.

Now guess what? She only woke up once at 4.30am, I nursed her on one side and she slept through until Papa’s alarm went off at 7.30am.

Guess what we’re doing tonight? You got it – we’ll be going out for another date night.

Top 15 Reasons Why I Love America :: My Life Abroad

Here is my Top 15 of things I love about America…not to be taken too seriously and in no particular order.

  1. Complimentary toilet seat covers in (nearly) every public restroom.
  2. Movies coming to theaters on their actual release date.
  3. People picking up their dog poop. (I’m not naming a country I recently visited where it seems to be common to just walk away without removing your dog’s stinky business.)
  4. Drive-thru’s.
  5. Chilled tab water served as soon as you sit down in a restaurant (slices of lemon, orange or cucumber optional).
  6. Free refills.
  7. Bottled water: I love being able to get a bottle of water at nearly every single store in the entire United States.
  8. 24/7 opening hours: In Germany, I could easily starve on a Sunday due to the lack of food in my fridge and no open grocery store to save me.
  9. Bagging groceries at the store: “Need any help out, Ma’m?” “Sure, why not.”
  10. The position of traffic lights: You can see them way better from your low-riding sports car if they are positioned across the street/intersection from where you stopped.
  11. Right turn at a red light (unless stated otherwise).
  12. Acceptance of debit cards anywhere for any amount: Ok, the (ab)use of credit cards has brought America into this financial mess but if you’re responsible and stay within your financial means, the accepted use of plastic as payment is quite nice.
  13. The One-Dollar bill: Coins are just clutter in your wallet.
  14. Advanced use and offers available on the internet: Forget privacy issues, I want free shipping, free returns and easy check out processes.
  15. In God We Trust – the official motto of the United States of America.

Now tell me, what are your favorite things about America?

 

Home Is Where The Heart Is :: My Life Abroad

(This post is dedicated to my Mama, my sister Meike, my Oma and my faithful friends Philipp, Mobbel, Anabel, Diana, Wiebke & Wiebke and Antje.)

The Germans have a wonderful word to describe “home” or the “feeling of home”. It’s called “Heimat”.

Heimat is a German word that has no simple English translation. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland, but these English counterparts fail to encapsulate the true meaning of the word.

“Heimat” is a German concept. People are bound to their ‘heimat’ by their birth, their childhood, their language and their earliest experiences.
Source: Wikipedia


My recent trip ‘back home’ to Germany brought up this question again: What is my ‘Heimat’? Is it my new home – the United States of America? Or my home country – Germany?

After over 5 years of living abroad, miles away from family, friends and childhood memories, I can finally say that my ‘Heimat’ is…America.

During our last trip to Germany, I actually got home sick. As in, I missed America. In all its glory and imperfection. That was a first. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and dearly miss my family and the few remaining, faithful friends I have in my home country but I can now say that my new ‘Heimat’ is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

"What do we leave behind?" from the exhibition at the Emigration Museum Hamburg.

‘Heimat’ is not only a place, ‘Heimat’ is simply the place where one feels home. But what creates that feeling? Even after all these years living in a foreign country, I have these moments where I get really excited about my immigrant life. I call them my ‘America moments’. I stand still for a second and remind myself of my journey and all those who supported it. I look around and think about how my life has changed. I smile. I have come so far (literally) and have accomplished so much (with the help of many).

So I guess the feeling of ‘achievement’ plays a big role. And then there’s the change in me which plays an even bigger role. In Germany, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, where I should go. I was depressed, angry and felt empty. In England where I lived for almost two years, I remained restless and searching for something better. In America, I found Jesus and therefore answers to all those questions. I’ve become a new person and left the old Wiebke behind – at least the bad stuff, the junk, the baggage. That void inside of me was finally filled.

Thesaurus offers another word for ‘achievement’ – arrival.

Maybe that’s what makes me love America so much? Maybe it’s not only about friends, family or things? Maybe it’s more about the change in me and the peace I’ve found? Maybe I have finally arrived?

But then, if ‘Heimat’ is all about feelings, emotions, peace, then this all makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it?