yeehaw

Nolan and I made it to Texas! Yeehaw!

We managed to get the apartment cleaned up, and get ourselves packed up and ready.  Not only is this Nolan’s first flight, but it’s his first long haul transatlantic flight.  People kept telling me “well you know, now is the easiest time to fly because he’s so young”.  And yes, that’s absolutely true, but sometimes there would be that follow up, “oh just you wait, you have it easy” sentiment or look.  Welp, perhaps this was the easiest time, but I still feel pretty damn accomplished doing this travel on my own.
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First off, I was pleasantly surprised with how helpful, patient and doting the Tegel customs and security officers were.  They helped hold Nolan, put bags and stroller through the x-ray, and get us all through to the gate.

Our first flight was the quick 2 hour jump over to London.  NJ sat on my lap, and slept on the ascent and descent, which was perfect.  Other passengers and flight attendants were so eager to help me get my carry-ons stowed, and baby belt buckled.  The only little hiccup was my stroller/car seat, which I had gate checked in Berlin ended up begin tossed in with the regular baggage.  I was hoping I could use the stroller during our layover, plus, gate checked items are usually handled a bit more gently.  But, alas, it was not to be.  I kept Noley in the ergo, and hoped that I wouldn’t find a mangled bunch of wheels at baggage claim in Dallas.  Luckily, it all emerged unscathed.

Again, security and customs officers were kind and patient at Heathrow.  Soon enough we were on our way to Dallas.
IMG_1751Nolan got to hang out in a little bassinet attached to the bulkhead.  He seemed plenty cozy, and slept the majority of the flight.
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No tears, no screaming, just smiles and snoozes.  Hooray!

We were greeted by the whole Powers crew.
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I love having these cousins together! Pshea has been pretty interested in this new, smaller creature.  He’s tried to take a couple chomps on NJ.IMG_1763

Nolan has been mostly focused on figuring out his new environment, and all these nice new faces.
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For Father’s Day, we took some cute little pics of Pshea and NJ with their matching Dodger onesies and Sambas.

Here’s a solo shot that cracked me up. Solid pose.

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But these pics of the two boys together are just the best.

Chomp. IMG_6659

Crawl.

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All the tongue.  IMG_6676

the booties.

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A serious face, but a cute little french shirt.

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More matching.  IMG_6878

“playing” together.
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Matching with Uncle Patrick! IMG_1977

Patrick Shea is such a funny, happy little one.  He’s army crawling everywhere, starting to eat like a big boy and just full of giggles and roars.  IMG_1984

Crawling over for some more playtime. IMG_1987

Otherwise I’m enjoying all the delicious food, service, and convenience here.  I went to Trader Joe’s where employees fawned over Nolan, and, without my asking, picked up my grocery bags and brought them to my car.  Let me tell you, after 5 weeks of hauling my own groceries and stroller up and down stairs, I felt like a friggin’ princess.

Plus, casey and patrick are pretty incredible hosts.  Casey even printed and framed some family photos with Nolan to make it even more homey and special.  That thoughtful gal.

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Summer Plans

The olympic qualification tournament has ended, and unfortunately, Australia was unable to book a ticket to Rio.  It’s obviously devastating, but we are trying to focus on the extra time we will have together as a family this summer.  That’s a pretty welcome thought as we are 5 weeks deep in the separation phase of the summer, and pretty over it.  Just another 3 weeks till we get PC back.

In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying the real summer weather here in real summery pants.

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Porkchop loves them.  IMG_1613

He was positively thrilled about our walk to the castle.
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We’ve even broken out our summertime shorts.  IMG_1634

On Sunday we joined the Spirovski’s to check out the ice cream Naschmarkt at Markthalle Neun.  It was alright.  I mean, there was plenty of ice cream, including asparagus flavored ice cream (Germans and their bloody asparagus obsession).  Jana and I sought out more unusual flavors that still sounded palatable.  I grabbed mango chili, and later we shared a scoop of moscow mule.  Both delicious, but I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed in the overall selection.  I also expected more ice cream treats like sundaes, milkshakes, or floats.  There were 2 stalls that offered cookies and ice creams, but other than that, it was just scoops.
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It was still an enjoyable afternoon, and the Spirovski’s introduced me to a delicious Bosnian restaurant/kiosk joint.   IMG_1688

Other than that, we’ve been doing mums and babies things, and starting the organizational process for our trip back to the states.
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Snickerdoodle had his u4 checkup, and second round of shots today.

Here he is doing a bit of training the other day, so he could the doc his head holding skills.

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He’s 7.84 kg, or 17.3 lbs, and 64 cm or 25 in. long.  Once again, he took his vaccinations pretty well, and has been tuckered out since then.

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We are counting down the days until our big flight!

Qualification Tournament Begins

The olympic qualification tournament in Tokyo started on Saturday, and it has been crazy.  It’s a round robin tournament, and Australia has only two matches left to determine its Rio fate.  Unfortunately, they didn’t start out so hot, but their form keeps on improving.  Yesterday Australia played France, one of the best teams in the world right now, and lost 3-1.  But, they fought tooth and nail to push it to five sets, which meant that the 4th set was a wild display with Australia fighting off 16 match points before it all ended at 44-42.  I highly recommend watching the 4th set, or at least the last bit of it below.

All the matches are being broadcast live on the FIVB’s youtube channel.  As you watch live, there is also a live chat sidebar to interact with other fans/read some absolutely beautiful internet nonsense.  If you’re not reading the live chat every once in awhile you’re kind of doing it wrong.  In addition to basic “go team” “you suck” or random cries of “Hodorrrrr”, there was one fellow who really needed to go pee, but was waiting until the end of the 4th set.  As the set inched closer to the 40 point mark he resigned himself to peeing in front of his desktop.  At the end of the match several other commenters wanted an update on his bladder status.  There are so many other comments I wish I could share, but they’re either too crass or too insensitive to share publicly.  Just…go have a look sometime.

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PC scored 34 points in the match (which is pretty amazing), but I’m sure he would have traded those points for a shot at the 5th set.  Anyhow, found this on IG, and I liked it.

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Most of the matches are on at 3 am or annoyingly early in the morning, but today’s match against Japan was a nice lunchtime broadcast.  I think Nolan enjoyed it.  Also, I’m 100% sure I’ve been more nervous than PC throughout this tournament.  There are two d0-or-die matches left!

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As for Nolan updates…

He’s been babbling a lot, and grabbing at his toys.

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He’s a strong little porkchop.

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And a champion sleeper.  He’s been sleeping through the night consistently for the last few weeks.  wooooooot

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He enjoys snoozing in his bouncer with his koala friend to nuzzle.

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On Sunday we went to check out Thai Park.  I’ve been dying to check it out for a couple of years, but it’s not in operation during the wintry/crap weather months when we are usually here.  Basically, when the weather is fine, Thai families come out to this park in Wilmersdorf, set up hot plates and umbrellas and sell delicious homemade Thai food.  IMG_1540

Ok, it’s not perhaps the most hygenic situation.  And no, it’s not strictly legal.  But it’s pretty amazing.  There’s curries, pad thai’s, skewers, dumplings and sticky rice desserts.  Plus, you can even get a thai iced tea or even a nice cocktail.  I was seriously eyeing the mojitos a couple next to us were enjoying.  Even if you’re not game to try the food, the people watching, and general atmosphere is worth the trip.  IMG_1542And other than that…we’ve got less than 2 weeks until Texas!

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2 months old

Our little snickerdoodle is two months old!

Here he is looking very serious.

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And not so serious

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He’s such a happy chappy. I love his morning smiles, and he’s just starting to laugh with some kind of audible sound.  We try to facetime with PC when the little one is happy and awake.  I think when Nolan sees his daddy again it’ll be quite funny.  He will recognize the voice, but it might take him a second to size up this large person.  IMG_1492

Over the weekend we had full on summer weather, so Nolan and I headed out to Treptower Park.  I wanted to hang out on the Insel der Jugend, and show the little guy where me and his dad got engaged.

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He was…unimpressed.  IMG_1433

We strolled around, trying to find a nice patch of ground with shade for baby, and a patch of sun to get some color on my hideously white legs. IMG_1442

Then we walked over to the Soviet war memorial.  IMG_1451Little baby, big soldier.

While Berlin has a lot to offer families, it is kind of annoying that very few restaurants or stores have any kind of baby changing facilities.  However, while shopping at Galleries Lafayette, the fancy French department store,  I found out they have a pretty cute little baby room.  For one big stall they have two separate doors.

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There were a couple of places to sit and nurse, the changing table was nice and big, plus they play calming tracks of french kids singing nursery rhymes.  adorbs.

IMG_1414The cheeky monkey and I have tried to meet up with friends when possible since I’m sure he gets bored of my face.
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But by the end of the day, both of us are pretty tuckered out.  Luckily, he’s a champion sleeper at night, so we can both get recharged.  I may be on my own with the little one, but at least I’m not sleep deprived.

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This week we went to our first mums and babies group, and our first baby rhyme time!  They are both english speaking groups, so its usually ladies who’ve lived a few different places, travel all the time, and are all working out the expat family life.  As we gear up for our first long haul flight I’ll be pumping them for some helpful hints.  Fun thing I heard: Emirates is known for their in-flight service, but apparently they are also particularly baby friendly.  One of the mums said that a flight attendant was so helpful to her during a flight, she even offered to change her baby’s diaper!  When you offer to deal with some random baby’s poop…that’s some serious service.
IMG_1471Oh and rhyme time was good fun singing old nursery rhymes.  But dang I didn’t know probably 70% of the words to these songs…or the songs themselves.  Nolan seemed to enjoy the experience, even when he got palmed in the face by a curious, crawling baby.  So we are looking forward to more rhyme time fun.
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As for PC, the Olympic qualification tournament starts on Saturday in Tokyo(Friday in the states).  Click here for the tournament website, and they will have links to watch matches live if you are so inclined.  Here’s a nice article about PC and the team.  Australia needs to be the best Asian team in the tournament, and they open up play against one of the biggest potential obstacles to that achievement: Iran.  Send your positive vibes to the Volleyroos!

And finally here’s a couple random things that cracked me up:

A terrifying looking Koala finger puppetIMG_1383

And someone stuck a relatively large dog into a smart for two.  not the safest choice.

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Big Birthday

Monday was PC’s big 30th birthday!

PC was in Italy with the Aussie team, so Nolan and I were a little bummed we couldn’t celebrate with him.  But I made this lil collage of PC and Noley together.

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And here’s a cool collage a fan made for PC…hahahahaimage

Last Friday, Nolan had his first shots. He only cried for about 3 seconds, before I was able to calm him with a cuddle.

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Little snickerdoodle didn’t have any adverse reactions, he just went into super sleepy koala mode for the rest of the day.  image

Besides that, we’ve been trying to get out and about as much as possible.  I’m getting better and better at the logistics of getting in and out of the house, on public transportation, loading and unloading from the car.  I’ve definitely started making mental notes about which stations have elevators, and which restaurants have changing tables (spoiler alert: almost none of them).  Speaking of poopy matters, we were just at a cafe today that specified only #1’s were allowed in their toilet. They must have had one customer that really destroyed their bathroom.imageimageimageimage

…and here’s a couple of pics just because he looks so cute

imageimageWe got snickerdoodle a new bouncy chair.  First, because his cousin Pshea LOVES this particular bouncer.  Second, because Noley still hates Piglet on the other chair.  So far, I think he likes this new one.

imageIn other news, PC signed to come back to Berlin!  We are happy with the decision, but there’s a little added bonus.  I don’t have to pack up the whole apartment by myself. woot.

Taking it Easy

Here’s what’s been going on…

Nolan and I have been relaxing and enjoying some beautiful (FINALLY) weather in Berlin.  Apparently it’s supposed to get rainy again grrr.

Sunday was, of course, Mother’s Day.  It was just Noley and I, so we took it real easy.  I caught up on a bunch of shows, and we took a nice stroll up to the castle.

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This cheeky monkey has been smiling more and more.  He even managed to roll over a few times yesterday…but subsequent attempts today have ended in him simply sucking his own arm or fist.

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We got Noley’s consular report of birth abroad, and his passport!   image

Can’t wait for when he’s 5 and still using this infant picture, but hey, the US has to make sure no shady babies enter the country.

We’ve been trying to fit plenty of quality Facetime in with daddy.  And I make sure to send him lots of cute pics like this…

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Haha look at that porkchop!

And just for fun, here’s one from when PC was still in Berlin

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Today, Nolan had an ultrasound.  He was born with an extra little nodule on his right ear, and apparently there is some sort of bizarre and rare correlation between skin tags on the ear and kidney problems. Who knew?!  Anyhow, kidneys look good, so hooray.  He also managed to let out a few toots and a poop while doc was doing the ultrasound…proud moments.

And speaking of medical baby stuff,  I was just thinking about the fact that at the hospital, not one doctor, nurse or midwife mentioned doing skin-to-skin.  I have no idea why.  I know that in the US and Australia skin-to-skin or kangaroo care is a big deal.  Its supposed to promote bonding between parent and child, and do some other positive stuff.  Anyhow, I made sure that PC and I both did some quality nakey time with Nolan, but I thought it was strange.  As I’ve said before, the midwives and nurses seemed most concerned that Nolan had enough clothes on.

Anyhow, here’s some random snapchat filters I put on Nolan for funsies.

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this next one was a personal favorite.  image

And for whatever reason…Nolan seems to really hate the little Piglet doll on his 100 acre wood chair.  From the beginning, it was the first figure he focused on, and he would just get this worried and angry expression on his face.  Well, as you can see, the animosity has only grown.  image

screw you, piglet.

 

happy X three

Our family of three celebrated PC’s team winning three major championships this season!

+German Cup

+CEV Cup

+German Championship

woohooooooo!

PC got a couple of MVPs in there too.  Here’s the video recap of Berlin’s win

This was a 3-0 victory in the third match of the finals series, and the first time we’ve gotten to see them win the championship at home.

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This was also Nolan’s first volleyball match!  Because he’s still a newborn susceptible to germs and things, I kept him close and covered in my solly wrap the whole time.  He also had special ear protection for the loud hall.  We watched all of the first set, went back into the empty and quiet VIP room for a feed during the second set, and walked around the back of the hall for the third and final set.  Little Noley did so well!  No crying or anything.

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The only problems arose when we went back to the VIP room after the match.  A bunch of nosy, overeager fans were trying to get a bit too close.  One fan was NOT getting the hint that I needed her to back off while I readied to feed Nolan.  And the worst was a lady who crept up behind me and took a bunch of photos of Nolan over my shoulder WITHOUT ASKING.  Incredibly rude, but thankfully most of the others left us alone.
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Nolan even got a little shoutout in the newspaper…

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Paul’s quote says after slamming an ace that he looked up into the stands at his wife and his son.

Nolan and I did not partake in the after party festivities, but apparently it got rowdy…
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that’s the president of the club with his shirt off…

We are so proud of PC and all he accomplished this season.  Today he left for training camp in Italy with the Australian team.   They’ll be preparing for the Olympic qualification tournament in Japan that begins at the end of May.  We won’t be seeing him until World League in Dallas 😦 but thank goodness for Facetime.  Hopefully the volleyroos can get things clickin’ and make it to Rio, and all this time away will be worthwhile.

Nolan is now about 6 weeks old, but this is our smiley boy at one month!

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He has been smiling a ton, and I got one little chuckle out of him so far.  He continues to be a sleepy little koala in the night, but content and alert during the day.  Last week, he had his first checkup with the pediatrician.  He’s a big ol’ boy.  Over thirteen pounds, over two feet long, and very strong.

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chillin and waiting for the doctor

Here’s a couple of other smiley pics.

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Nolan has also been lucky enough to meet his Australian grandparents.  He’s been enjoying lots of cuddle time with Trevor and Hilde.  They also brought over a koala friend made by Luke and Steph.
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30 years ago, PC’s dutch oma sent a little sailor suit to Australia for baby Paulie.  Trevor and Hilde brought that suit with them to Berlin for Noley to wear.  Pretty darn cute.

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Trevor posted this comparison on Facebook, and lots of people commented that the two babies look like twins.  I have to say…I don’t agree.  So far, I think Nolan is a nice little combo of the both of us.  And frankly, I think he only has two features that I can definitely say are one or the other.  He’s definitely got PC’s lips, and my eyes.  Everything else is kinda general baby squishy.  But maybe you people out there have some other opinions.  You can see PC above there, so here’s a baby pic of me for comparison.
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Newborn Photos

We took some newborn photos last week, and our awesome photographer, Nina Reinsdorf, got them back to us super quick.

I’m just gonna put a whole bunch of them here 🙂

 

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and here’s some Nolan updates:

He’s 5. 7kg now, and getting more and more expressive all the time.  He might actually be part koala because he’s a great lil sleeper.  The last few nights he has slept a 4-5 hour stretch, then had a feed/change, and slept another 3 hours.

Today we took him to the US consulate to become a little American boy!  P.S. trying to get a baby to take a passport photo is a pretty hilarious and stupid experience.

Volleyball updates:

BR Volleys managed to finish off Lüneburg after an away 5 set thriller.  Now they are getting ready for the finals which begin on Sunday.

the first couple weeks

First: Volleyball News

BRVolleys are the Europa Cup Champions!

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They flew to Siberia, and smashed Surgut 3-0 in the CEV cup final.  Now, the guys played great, so they would have likely won anyhow, but there’s a side story to this whole victory.  Three of Surgut’s stars did not play, and were not listed on the roster for the match.  This is highly suspicious because there was drug testing after the match, and it seems like very, very odd timing to not only “rest” these three players, but leave them off the roster.  This comes after the European Olympic Qualification tournament in January when one of Russia’s players tested positive for meldonium, you know, that drug Sharapova just got busted on.  So, perhaps it’s not just track and field that’s messing around in Russia…

Over 100 fans turned out to Schönefeld airport to welcome the champions back.  Here are some great photos.

And, if you missed out, you can watch the match here, including the celebration/medal ceremony at the end.

http://www.laola1.tv/de-de/video/2016-04-02-gazprom-yugra-surgut-region-berlin-recycling-volleys-lde

Berlin are also in the Semis of Bundesliga playoffs against Lüneberg.  They won a 5 set thriller last night at home, and have a tough away match coming up on Saturday.

Okay, now Baby News:

Little Noley bear is just about at 3 weeks old, but here’s a look back at the last week or so.  I had always heard that the first 2 weeks home with a newborn are the toughest.  Thankfully, we got a very, cool bebe who likes to sleep 3ish hour stretches in between night feeds, and barely cries…so far.  I know that these babies have a way of morphing overnight, so I keep reminding myself to be grateful for the present situation, and remaining vigilant for…well less desirable outcomes.  We also have to acknowledge that during our 5 day hospital stay, we had great care, and nurses who were very eager to help with early breastfeeding attempts.  Plus, we have a midwife who comes to check on us every few days to make sure everything’s fine.  This has made the first couple weeks reasonably chilled out.

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“cuddling” his wubbanub

It was great having Grammy T here last week to do lots of cooking and cuddling.

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And as a parting gift, my mom cooked up some delicious soup and pasta sauce.  So, our dinner’s have been sorted all week.  This has also been a major factor in the whole “feeling like things are under control even though we have a newborn”  thing.

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A few things have surprised us about newborns.  First, we had no idea how impossible it is to wake babies in those first few days.  I mean you can really mess with them, and they’ll stay dead asleep.  Also, baby toots are much louder than you’d think.  IMG_0818

It has been so much fun finally getting to try out and use all of the awesome gear we bought or were gifted.  So far, no disappointments!

We are especially loving his stroller.  He loves rolling over the cobblestones…well we assume…because he’s usually out like a light when we go out on walks.

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aaaand can we just appreciate this hat for a moment?!!!

The german midwives have been VERY  concerned with the amount of clothing we have Nolan in.  I’ve heard this is one of the only things old German Oma’s will come reprimand you for.  Even though I think he’s a little heater, it always seems like the hebamme wants more clothing, or at least more wool clothing put on him.

However, I will say that heat has played an important role.  We have a great mini fan heater that we turn on for his diaper changes, and it usually does the trick to keep him chilled out when we’re getting him nakey.  Also, after nighttime feeding, burping and diaper changing, his little bed can be chilly, and I think it makes it a tad harder for the little one to settle back in for sleep.  So, I’ve been putting a little heating pack, in his bed while we do all that other stuff.  Then, when it’s time to lay him down it’s a little cozier for catching some zzzz’s.

We’ve gone to a couple of cafes, and a couple of restaurants now.  I’ve managed to feed him twice while out and about, but we haven’t attempted any nappy changes.  Still, feeling pretty good about our outings.

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We’ve had lots of lovely visitors.  And Auntie Megan even popped over from Turkey to meet our little chunker.

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Epic faceswap with Megan

We have received such thoughtful cards and gifts from family, friends, and even fans.

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Nolan even got his first piece of mail! Thanks Uncle Dan!

It’s pretty amazing watching Nolan wake up more and more each day.  He’s becoming more alert, more focused, and more interactive seemingly by the hour.

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Shush, Dad

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That’s all for now!