Saturday, July 2, 2011

What's Not to Love?

There are so many things that we love about our firstborn...his courage, his stubbornness, his big brown eyes (with eyelashes that would make any woman envious), but it is the little things that we love most about him. Right now, he is doing and saying some particularly cute things that make Emmett...well, Emmett.

We LOVE the way he:

1) says "I love you too", even when he is the one who says it first. I guess he just knows we love him.

2) insists that he is full after dinner and then 3 seconds later asks for a snack.

3) stretches the word "snack" into an eight syllable word....shnaaaaaaaack!

4) says "Again!" about 4,000 times a day. In Emmett's mind, if something was funny the first time, it will be just as funny the fiftieth.

5) calls all men "Daddies" and all women "Mommies", whether they have kids or not.

6) stops and looks at himself admiringly every time he passes a mirror...let's just say poor self-esteem is not an issue with this kid.

7) knows how to work the iPad better than either of us...without us ever teaching him.

8) makes us mimic his funny faces, even though his are much better.

9) says "You talk about it" when we ask him a question that he doesn't feel like answering.

10) prays for everything under the sun at bedtime...God bless the car, the house, the walls, and stickers, and stamps, and Santa, on and on and on...especially if he isn't ready to go to sleep yet :)

11) kisses his baby brother in Momma's belly...and tells him to be nice to me and not kick so much.

12) chooses his ice cream based on color, not flavor. Right now, green and blue are the winners.

13) searches for "clues" to solve mysteries all the time. Too much Scooby Doo perhaps?

14) still calls blankets "bibbets" idea where this came from, but it's adorable and Joe and I have taken to calling them the same thing.

15) says "Mommy, can you sit next to me?" when he is drinking from his sippy at night. He likes to play with my hair while he's drinking it. It soothes him.

16) thinks that bandaids magically heal all wounds, which is why he only keeps them on for about thirty seconds before taking them off and declaring himself healed.

17) snores...loudly. Of course, we will find this much more endearing when we are no longer sharing a bed with him in a hotel.

18) still talks about his last Halloween on an almost daily basis. He got to dress up as a shark and eat candy with his friends. It doesn't get much better than that.

19) shows real concern when he hears another child crying. Let's hope he's as compassionate with his baby brother.

20) is obsessed with the type of "flushers" all toilets have since we moved here. They look different here, and he is endlessly fascinated by them.

21) gives a play by play of every bowel movement he has. This can only be cute when coming from a three year old.

22) sings incredibly annoying, loud, monotonous songs and when asked to stop says, "but I made that song just for you"...making us feel both horrible and happy at the same time :)

23) loves to just be with us. We are dreading the day that this is no longer the case.

24) uses the number 24 for everything. Is it time to get out of the bathtub? "24 more minutes". What time is it? "24 o'clock", etc. We're pretty sure this is going to be his jersey number if he plays sports.

It is also the reason we are ending this list at number, you guessed it, 24 :)

Emmett Joseph, we love you more and more every single day. And, no matter what, you will will always be our baby.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alsfeld that Ends Well

Okay, that was a stretch with the title, but I'm feeling a little cheesy today :)

If you've visited this part of Europe (or maybe any part of Europe), you know that everything pretty much comes to a standstill on Sundays. With the exception of churches, restaurants and gas stations, everything else closes down. Determined not to spend an entire day locked up in our hotel, however, we ventured out to the little town of Alsfeld for a visit...what a gem we found! Beautiful buildings, amazing architecture, cute little bistros, and incidentally, one of the largest groups of American tourists we have seen to date. They were getting a tour of the town in English (note to self: I have GOT to sign up for one of those someday). There is obviously a lot of history in this little village, but I was content (for the time being) to just enjoy its beauty. It was a photographer's dream as every corner we turned looked like a postcard. Though I am definitely an amateur photographer, I snapped a few shots to share with each of you. Hope you enjoy!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Schönes Wochenende

We had another beautiful weekend in Marburg, filled with relaxation and fun! Saturday we went to Circus Krone, which happened to be Emmett's very first well as mine! That's right, at the ripe age of 36, I had never seen a circus! E's favorites were the sea lions and other animals. I, however, preferred the performance acts--the jugglers, acrobats, and trapeze artists. So we were all happy, and E has been talking about it ever since.

Sunday, we packed up a picnic lunch and went to a nearby park. Joe and E ran some laps in a fruitless effort to wear our boy out, but alas, he was still up until almost 10 p.m. that night...I give up! In the afternoon, my amazing husband gave me three whole hours to myself as he and E went to a football game (yes, American football) here in Marburg. Apparently, they had a great time since Emmett was still crying when he got home...he didn't want to leave "that fun game". I spent my three hours taking a bubble bath and watching an entire movie...alone...uninterrupted. I can't remember the last time I did that. It was heavenly.

Finally, on Sunday, we decided to take a drive to Edersee, a lake just over an hour north of Marburg. It had been recommended to Joe by a colleague, so we thought we would check it out. The ride alone was worth the trip there--beautiful trees, adorable little towns, lush green grasses...I could go on and on. Once we arrived at Edersee, we found people camping, wind surfing, fishing, and felt like we were right back in the U.S. It was a beautiful little spot, so I know we will be returning again soon, especially since there is an old castle which has been turned into a hotel. You can't pass up a chance to sleep in a castle, right? After a full day there, Emmett declared that his favorite part of the whole weekend was, you guessed it, throwing rocks in the lake. This kid is nothing if not consistent. A boy and his rocks.

Racing around the park

Hoarding rocks to throw into the lake

Taking in a double wide slide!

No matter where we go, E manages to find a popsicle :)

Monday, June 6, 2011


A home just isn't a home without our Murphy Lee! Our 11 year old kitty arrived in Germany on Friday, and we were all thrilled to see him. We felt like a part of our little family was missing until he got here. I am sure that the last month has been traumatic for the poor guy--his first stay in a kennel (and a long one at that), a few trips to the vet, and an international flight (11 or so hours in an animal crate). He made it though, the little trooper, and he is settling in nicely so far. He has found his "safe spots" along with a few choice windows that provide hours of people-watching entertainment. Needless to say, Emmett is thrilled to have his buddy it is starting to feel like home!

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Zoo Enthusiasts

Since Emmett is such an animal lover, we are making it our mission to visit every zoo that is within driving distance during our stay here. We had already seen the zoo in Frankfurt, so our next stop was the Kolner Zoo, in Koln (Cologne), Germany. Two of Joe's colleagues have a little battle going on as to which is the better of the two zoos...not surprisingly, the woman from Koln prefers the Kolner Zoo and the woman from Frankfurt is convinced that their zoo is the best. So, we were sent to break the tie.

Having seen them both, I can honestly say that they are both wonderful parks. However, the one in Koln might have just won out simply because it had an awesome aquarium, which we weren't expecting (of course, we told the two women that they tied...we don't need to make enemies already). Beautiful fresh and salt water aquariums kept E entertained for over an hour of our visit. What I love about seeing zoos in other countries is that they often have animals that we don't have at our zoos in the states, so we definitely saw a few new things during our trip.

Here are some pics of our visit to the Kolner zoo--enjoy!

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Monday, May 30, 2011

Pirate Costume: Take 2

This is the reason we HAD to get E a legitimate pirate ensemble. Since he started showing an interest in pirates a few weeks ago, he has been walking around the apartment wearing a makeshift costume (which really had nothing to do with pirates, but you have to give him credit for his creativity). Thus, the before AND after of Pirate Emmett:



Disneyland Paris

As I mentioned in my previous post, we took Emmett to Disneyland Paris this weekend to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his Double Switch heart surgery. After a six hour drive there, we did little more than grab a bite to eat and crash into our beds for the night, hoping to be fully energized for the days ahead.

Day one didn't start out as planned. For some crazy reason, we didn't think they would be busy yet...I mean, it's only May, right? WRONG. It was nuts. We went downstairs for our breakfast, only to find that the two waiting lines wrapped outside of the restaurant, up the stairs, and into the lobby. I wanted to just say "Forget it" but Baby B had other ideas. I knew that if I didn't get something in my belly soon, Momma would pay the price. We waited for about ten minutes before we saw the hostess, who quite hurriedly pointed at my pregnant belly, called a waitress over, and immediately moved us to the front of the line (ahead of about 40 non-pregnant guests). Score! I finally found one advantage to going to an amusement park 30 weeks pregnant--sympathy seating!

After a nice continental breakfast of breads, cereal, yogurt, and fruit, we headed out for the park...and not a moment too soon, as E had been talking about seeing pirates since the minute he woke up in the morning. Our first stop was Adventureland, because, well, that's where the pirates live. It is there that E took his first real ride--Pirates of the Caribbean. As much as he wanted to enjoy it, he just couldn't crack a smile. It was a little too dark, a little too scary, and a little too creepy for our Big E. We had to laugh though, because Emmett being Emmett, he never cried or complained. He also NEVER changed his expression, not once, even when the boat took a little dip down river. He just stared straight serious. Any of you that really know Emmett can totally picture this, I'm sure. I love that kid.

Since our first ride wasn't a huge success, we decided to follow it up with a classic, "It's a Small World". It is a very small world indeed, and it became a very familiar one as we rode it four times in just two days. Truth be told, E would have probably ridden it four more times had we let him. He loved it. And every time, he just took it all in, noticing something new around every corner. He's such a little observer.

Aside from these two rides, Daddy took him flying with Dumbo as well as Peter Pan. We also spent time at a couple of playgrounds, explored hidden caves, crossed a suspension bridge, and ate numerous popsicles. One of our favorite E moments was when we were walking through a cave. He was leading the way in full pirate attire--hat, flag, and sword at the ready. After turning a particularly dark corner, he immediately stopped, switched on his oh-so-serious face, and headed out of the cave saying "I don't think so...there's pirates in there".

Last but not least, the parade. Joe and I went to Disneyland Paris eleven years ago. Of course, we were in our twenties with no kids, so mostly we just hung out at the restaurants and had some drinks. It was also in October, a particularly slow time at the park, so seeing the parade was not a big deal. In fact, it seemed like we kept accidentally running into it, without planning. Not the case this time. People started claiming their spots along the parade route an hour in advance. Knowing that E probably wouldn't make it an hour, we decided to hit the gift shop, take a potty break, and try to find a spot before it started. This was when Operation Baby Bump came through yet again. As we were wandering the streets, a Disney employee stopped me and asked if I was looking for a place to watch the parade. I said yes, and he pulled back the rope to the handicapped section. He said "You should't be walking around in your condition. Come stand back here." Front row, baby! Apparently, in France, being pregnant is a handicap. I'll take it. I was so tired and sore at this point that I didn't think I could walk a step further anyway. Go Disneyland--way to treat the Mommas!

All in all, our first Disney experience with Emmett was a huge success. In fact, as we were loading up the car, he was crying "I don't want to leave this happy place. I love it here!" Something tells me this won't be our last trip to Disney :)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

One year ago today, Joe and I handed over our sweet boy to the surgical team at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital one more time for his third (and hopefully final) heart surgery. Though we had been down this road before, this surgery felt different. On one hand, we were relieved knowing that the "big one" would be behind us soon. On the other hand, we knew this surgery was the most risky one yet. I cannot begin to explain the amount of faith that it takes in God and the surgeons to trust them with your child's life. We felt a tremendous sense of hope and helplessness, all at the same time. We had been discussing this surgery, the "double switch" since I was pregnant though, and we truly believed that it offered the best hope for a long, healthy, and normal life for Emmett. One year later, we still believe we made the right decision.

Joe and I know how lucky we are. We get to wake up to Emmett's big, beautiful smile every day. We get to watch him play, hear him laugh, and feel his hugs. We know that not everyone is this fortunate. Throughout Emmett's journey, we have met other heart families, either in person or online, who still have a long road ahead of them. We also know families who are dealing with the very harsh reality of losing a child to heart disease. We think of them every day and keep them in our prayers, not really having a clue what they're going through...and not knowing why our own beautiful child was spared.

To commemorate the one year anniversary of E's surgery, we are doing two things this week. First of all, we booked a little getaway for EuroDisney this weekend. Remembering the difficult time we were going through this time last year, we just wanted this weekend to be about having fun and celebrating Emmett's life. Believe me when I say that it is ALL Emmett wants to talk about this week...and admittedly, Joe and I are just as excited (maybe even more so)!

The second thing we are going to do is make a donation to The Children's Fund at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. The Lucile Packard Children's Fund supports the Hospital's highest priorities each year in areas that are not covered by insurance: Family and Community Services, Pediatric Research, and Care for All. With Emmett's condition being so rare, we did our homework and felt that LPCH, and specifically, Dr. Frank Hanley, was the right choice for Emmett's care. Their love for children combined with their innovative, ground-breaking work has given hope to families from all around the world who want nothing but the very best for their children. Joe and I have made a commitment to financially support their work every year on this day. We truly feel that they are angels on earth, doing amazing work for children and families. If you feel a tug in your heart to support their mission as well, please read more about ways to give here.

Finally, Joe and I would like to thank each of you, once again, for your support throughout the last four years. Since E's diagnosis in utero, we have felt overwhelming love and compassion from family members, friends, and even strangers who offered everything from prayers to meals to advice. We appreciated each and every gesture, and cannot begin to thank you all enough for keeping our family in your thoughts. It is hard to believe that just one year past his 9 hour open heart surgery, we are living in Germany with a feisty, strong-willed, and healthy Emmett, preparing for the new addition to our family in August. Yes, we are truly blessed.

Much Love,
Missy, Joe, and of course, Big E

Emmett right after his Double Switch - May 26, 2010

Emmett and his hero, Dr. Frank Hanley of LPCH

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Saturday, we ventured out to the beautiful town of Koblenz, about 140 km southwest of Marburg. Joe had seen online that they gave boat tours, and we were pretty sure that would be right up E's alley. Our first little adventure came with trying to use our car's navigation system in German. It got us to Koblenz, but detoured us through every little German town between here and there. Oh well, we just chalked it up to a learning experience and a nice little scenic tour. Needless to say though, we made sure that the drive home was more direct.

Upon arriving in Koblenz, I immediately hopped out of the car to find the nearest tourist center (and bathroom, of course) while Joe and E patiently waited for a parking spot to open up in the garage. Little did we know that there was a children's street fair and a summer-long horticultural event going on, so the place was jam-packed. All along the river were various boat tours that ranged from one to several hours long. Having never taken E on a tour like this, we decided to play it safe and see how he managed for an hour.

The weather was PERFECT--I was more than comfortable in my little sleeveless maternity dress (looking every bit 29 weeks pregnant, and feeling it too, by the way). We sat on the top, out in the sun, and just enjoyed the cool breeze and beautiful scenery. A fortress and a castle were among the beautiful sites, but E only had eyes for the ice cream offerings, so we caved in and let him have a kid's sundae before we even had lunch. It kept him quiet and happy the rest of the cruise...totally worth it. At the end of the hour, we asked E what he thought of the boat ride. In his words, "We floated around and ate ice cream. It was a good time." Deeps Emmett.

After grabbing some lunch at a cute little Italian bistro, we headed up to the castle, thinking that a little tour would nicely round out our day. So we handed over 40 euros for two tickets (a little steep, I thought) and began the not so quick climb up to the castle doors. We walked around a little while before asking the guy at the information desk where we could sign up for a tour. We were then informed that there was nothing to tour in the castle. Most of it was destroyed during the war and what parts have been restored are now government offices. Say what??? No royal bedrooms to ogle at, no thrones, no artwork? What the heck did we pay for then? I was told "the atmosphere". Thanks for that, but I could have gotten "atmosphere" somewhere else for a lot less than 60 bucks. Oh well, live and learn. *

* Footnote: We did discover later that our 20 euro tickets included a few other attractions; unfortunately, there was no time left in our day to take advantage of them. Next time, we will buy the tickets early :)

They did have beautiful gardens though and a few entertainment options--a dance performance, an a cappella group, some birds on interesting mixture of odds and ends. However, we found the best part last...a little wading pond that you could take off your shoes and walk through. Sounds a little strange, I know, but you should have seen the look on E's face when he saw it. "Can I go in that water?" he asked hopefully. "Of course" we said and in he went. Of course, walking isn't really E's style. So it was only a matter of seconds before he was running full force through it, soaking his shorts in the process. His shorts got so wet, and so heavy, that they started to fall down. Eventually, he was running through the water, shorts around his ankles, his adorable little Finding Nemo tighty whities on display for all of Koblenz to see (and, yes, there is photographic evidence in the collage below). I thought the old German men were going to bust something laughing at him, and I have to admit, I almost wet my pants doing the same thing (not a tough feat at 7 months pregnant). I jumped in, fished him out, changed his shorts, and off we went...Emmett protesting the entire time. He had no problem running around half naked and was not ready to go home yet.

So that, in a nutshell, was our day in Koblenz. Quite fun, quite peaceful, and quite possibly a place that we will visit again very soon!

Blog: Take 2

Yes, yes, I realize that the blog is a little outdated now. I can no longer technically call Emmett my Rocky Mountain Baby, and I, alas, am no longer a Rocky Mountain Momma. Therefore, the blog is in need of some updating. This will happen eventually, with the help of my technologically savvy BFF, Dana, I'm sure :)

I also must warn you that I will be taking over as head writer of the site, as Emmett has been quite the slacker lately. I mean, no posts since March...what's up with that, Big E? So, until he can become a little more consistent, he will only be making the occasional guest blogger appearance for the time being. I know that he is a more talented writer than me, not to mention funnier, more creative, and let's be honest, cuter...however, you'll just have to take what you can get for now. For my part, I promise to keep you all updated on our journey over the next two years...the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, the travels, the adventures, and of course, THE BOYS!

Sending lots of love from Deutschland!
Frau Missy

Your New Head Writer (and my little "in utero intern")

We Made It!

Well, we did it! We made the move. I have to be completely honest here (I mean a blog is where you share your deepest, darkest truths, right?) When Joe came to me several months ago and told me he would like to apply for a job in Germany, I thought "What could be the harm? He might not get it anyway, right?" I honestly didn't think that it would pan out, so when he told me that he'd been offered the job, I suddenly realized the enormity of it all. Moving internationally...with a 3 year old...almost 7 months pregnant. Friends have called me brave, but actually, I think I am just plain nuts. However, we have done this before. And, like before, I know that in the end we'll be glad we have the experience under our belts. Afterall, we are giving our kids an amazing opportunity to be immersed in a new culture, visit fun and exciting places, and hopefully, learn a new language while we're at it (at least a little).

So, now that the shock has worn off, I can tell you that our first week or so in Marburg has been a success. Joe is obviously working, so that leaves E and I the daytime to explore our new surroundings. We are currently living in a hotel, which is wonderful and beautiful. I mean, I haven't made my own bed since I got here and the laundry magically washes itself. Since this is probably the last time in my life that I will get to say that, I am going to enjoy it while I can. However, I must say that I am very excited to move into our apartment in July, so that E has more room to run, and I have a bigger kitchen to get creative in (at least until the baby gets here, when I'm sure we'll be back in carry-out mode for a while).

This week, Emmett and I found all the important things: the best place to feed ducks in the river, the best lunch spots, the neighborhood grocery store, the playgrounds, all of the public restrooms (since Baby B seems to be using my bladder as a trampoline these days), and of course, the toy store. As far as E is concerned, there are no other necessities in life. Ahhh, to be three again!

We have the beautiful old Botanical Gardens, which serves as a wonderful picnic area (plus there is a pond to throw rocks in, so E is in heaven). Joe took us to the zoo in Frankfurt, which is beautiful and much bigger than we anticipated...let's just say that the season pass will be a must. And, last weekend, we took our first day trip to the town of Koblenz. Beautiful. That will be in a separate blog post.

So, as with anything there are pros and cons. Here is how the list is playing out for us right now:
* Beautiful scenery
* New places to explore
* New people to meet
* Tasty news foods to eat
* Wonderful new memories to be made

* Missing all of you :(

So, friends and family, if you are up for a little European adventure, please know that the Balleydier Haus is always open (as of July, that is). Free room and just have to offer up a night of babysitting :)

We love and miss you all!

Missy, Joe, and Big E

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hey There, Remember Me?

My, my, my...where has the time gone? I haven't updated this site since...that's right...OCTOBER! Oy!!!

No excuses, just a simple lack of motivation and inspiration. I don't want you to think that we haven't been doing anything the last five months...hardly! In fact, we have had some major life changes in the works lately. Will fill you in on that later.

For now, however, I wanted to do something that is LONG overdue. The love of our lives, Big E, turned the Big Three on December 28th. As I did with his second birthday, I would like to catch you up on some of his favorite things--make that 3 favorite things (covering a wide variety of topics). I actually "interviewed" him, so this is straight from the horse's mouth!
Here goes:


3 Favorite TV Shows:
1) Max & Ruby (much to Daddy's dismay)
2) Scooby Doo (much to Mommy's dismay, only because I'm sick of it)
3) Go, Diego, Go!

3 Favorite SHNAAACKS (that's snacks, Emmett style):
1) Ice cream (preferably vanilla shakes or Oreo Blizzards)
2) Blueberry Pop-tarts
3) Granola bars

3 Favorite Toys:
1) Candyland
2) Stickers
3) Moon Sand (messy...thanks, Grandma Donna :)

3 Favorite Colors:
1) Green
2) Orange
3) Blue

3 Favorite Places to Visit:
1) Zoo
2) Ice cream store
3) Aquarium/Mall (tie--he couldn't pick just one)

3 Favorite Animals:
1) Sharks
2) Dinosaurs
3) Fish (particularly the arapaima--look it up)

Well, that's a quick snapshot of our big 3 year old boy. He amazes us everyday with his intelligence, wit, and uncanny ability to get anything he wants ;) We don't know what we ever did without him!