Here are some photos I snapped on a walk with my Mom of the town where they live. Sitzenkirch is a sleepy farm town that is cozy and nestled in the valley of beautiful hills. It is where BFA used to have their elementary school (now it's their middle school) so I have many fond memories of being there every day as a child. Down the street from my parents, a German neighbor has a little farm stand with a coin box. Every Friday she bakes fresh bread and other pastries (like Linzertorte - it was delicious) and has various other farm produce....feldsalat (type of lettuce), apples, potatoes, walnuts, etc. Across the street from her is a barn that has about 10 cows and a 2 week old calf. Each morning at 8 am and evening at 6 pm, you can find the farmer in there milking the cows for about an hr. For 50 Euro cents (about 65 cents US), he will dip into the fresh, warm milk and fill up your own glass liter bottle. My Dad and I would go a few times a week (often with Luca & Sophia) and get 3 liters of fresh, raw milk (3/4 of a gallon). I was in awe that it is just down the street from them and thankful to enjoy that milk all month! Seeing the baby calf was fun too - so cute. :) As maybe a TMI side-note of my own personal reflection: having breastfed Sophia for 11 months now, I do not take any milk production for granted - those sweet cows worked hard for us to be able to have it!


Sophia went sledding for the first time!! She did great! I'm not sure who had more fun, Sophia or Eric/me, but it was a very fun memory to make this Christmas!

If we had made a Christmas card this year....it would have looked something like this! Maybe we'll get one out next year. Thank you everyone who sent me one - I enjoyed opening them all when we got home. Hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Snow, snow, snow, snow, SNOW!

Once Eric arrived, we spent a few days/nights up the hill at Sonne dorm with his parents & Donnie. It was fun to have all the Shillings together and an early Christmas present was a bunch of SNOW!!! The German hills became transformed into a beautiful Narnia... simply gorgeous. Debbie, Eric, Sophia, and I all took a walk through the magical breath-taking forest & town of Marzell - what a treat!!!

Katie & Luca

It was such a joy to overlap my time with Katie's while at my parents. Granted, two kiddos on jet lag made my parents' apartment a tad snug (snug is an understatement), but it was fun to be in such close quarters and to be all together.

Some of my favorite memories of Luca while we were together:
- he loved Basel and would have gone there every night if we could have! When he saw the trams/trollies, he would say, 'ding, ding, ding! hello everybody!' it was so cute and never got old
- he did NOT like the taste of mineral water...too bubbly I guess. Sophia on the other hand DID like it, well she would make a funny face from the bubbles but then go back for more! Luca being the big-boy cousin looking out for her would say, 'don't drink that, Sophia! It's too sour for you!' in a sweet, warning voice.
-Katie was singing "wheels on the bus" with Luca one morning and together they were improvising new verses, like what does Mommy say on the bus? what does Aunt Betsy say on the bus? what does the rooster outside say on the bus? well she also asked him what does Sophia say on the bus? and his response so astutely captured her on jet-lag...he said she says 'waa, waa, waa' unfortunately she did a lot of that the first 10 days. I'm happy to say that once she started sleeping again, Luca made her laugh a LOT and he would ask her, 'are you happy now, Sophia?' it was really cute to see them together
-Luca & my Dad would sing a song together every morning that goes, "It's a Happy Day! and we thank God for the weather....it's a Happy Day! and we're living each day for the Lord! it's a Happy Day! and things are gonna get better....'cause we're living each day by the promises of God's Word' and I loved hearing it! His sweet, singing voice cannot be measured. I'll have to ask Katie to get it on video. I'm glad Popeye taught us all a new song
-walking around Sitzenkirch and talking to all the animals...there were goats, horses, chickens, cows, dogs, birds, cats, roosters....all within a 5 min walk! kind-of fun to be in a farm town! :)

out to eat at a beloved German restaurant in Kandern....the Ochsen...yum

Luca giving Sophia a Christmas present! He is helping her open it since she was too little to know what to do with it....a book in German! I love it! thanks Luca & Katie!!

We look forward to seeing what Luca's little sister will look like! Thanks Katie for coming and making that long trip by yourself while 33 weeks pregnant! You are amazing and I'm so glad we could share our time there. Highlights were lunch out just us (while Nana & Popeye babysat), walk up to Sausenberg (pics on K's blog), and our 2 am "party" in the living room! I wish I had snapped a photo of EVERYone in the house up at 2 am because of jet-lagged kids! at least we all got a laugh (it was either that or cry!) :) Love you!


Katie's blog

Katie did a much better job updating....see her blog for what we've been up to. :)

more posts coming here too though :)

10 months post....a month late!

jet lag and international travel set us back a bit....For some reason, my parents' computer wouldn't let me hit the "publish post" button so I have MUCH to catch up on! First things first, here is our 10 month update!
- napping twice a day, one in the morning & one in the afternoon
She is usually up between 6-7:15 am then 1st nap around 8:30-9a and 2nd nap at 12:30-1p. she goes down for the night around 6:30-7p (this is all in GSO before we left, not our schedule in Germany!)
-she started waving bye-bye! sooo cute! she usually doesn't start waving though until we are out of sight so people usually miss it since they are already gone! :) hah mid-December I was driving and said to her, wave bye-bye to Basel Sophia! and I saw her waving in the backseat! so she obviously knows/comprehends what I'm saying too! so fun!
-She has starting making diaper changes a challenge - flips to her stomach so fast it is amazing! changing clothes has become semi-dramatic. really dislikes the whole process...
-kind-of back to not liking the car. if she has cheerios or mum-mums (crackers) to keep her entertained, she is fine unless she's tired. music also helps
-She loves to clap!! and is so proud of herself! its adorable and brings a smile to our faces!
-b/c of Eric being in India for 2 weeks and then us coming to Germany 10 days before him, she has REALLY become a mama's girl! doesn't like me to be far (out of eyesight). I do enjoy being 'wanted' and there is nothing in the world I'd rather do than be close to my girl
-still enjoys baths - loves splashing and kicking. latest thing is to flip to her tummy, then go face down into the water (not sure what she thinks will happen but she comes up blinking the water out of her eyes and sputtering) doesn't cry though....usually just tries it again! silly nut
-has started liking funny noise....like when you slurp or gulp a drink, blow your nose, zerbert (blow raspberries) on her neck or tummy, click your tongue, lick your fingers, wash your hands and squeeze the water so it squeaks (she has greatest belly laugh w this activity)
-hangs on when I am holding her on my hip. sometimes she squeezes her legs around me, but mostly grips on with her sweet hands. when she is sleepy, she will lay her head on my chest and hold on so tight. melts my heart.
-for naps and bed, she cuddles and chews on her lovey, daisy. daisy is starting to look very "well-loved" at this point!
-has started sleeping on her tummy. I still lay her down on her back, but most of the time when I come to check on her or when she wakes up, she is either on her tummy or sometimes on her side. A few times, she is laying in a strange position that looks like she was sitting up and leaned forward to fall asleep so she is kind-of jack-knifed.
-still sucks her bottom lip when tired or uncertain of her surroundings (lots of new people or new place). she holds tight to mama in those situations too
-experienced jet-lag for the first time.....a whole post could be written about it! oy. it was TOUGH and considering 12 days later she is still going to bed at 10 pm, I'd say we are off our normal schedule, but sooooo much better than that first week! much harder than I imagined. I am glad we made our trip to Europe for such a long time so that the period after adjustment made it worth going!
this month has included: waving, sitting up from laying down position, pulling up, standing with minimal support, "leaning" out....our girl is getting so big! love when she crinkles her nose to smile! :)


It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I love Christmas! And what I am most excited about this year is being in KANDERN (Germany) for Christmas! Couldn't think of a more special way to celebrate Sophia's 1st Christmas with us. Here are some Christmas pajamas getting us in the holiday spirit! Thanks Tiff!

*also notice who's standing on her own??*

I love the shot above, even though it is a phone pic

Getting her jammies all ready for Christmas morning!


Latest snapshots of our life the past week....

HE'S HOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sophia's cheeks must have hurt her the day he came home....her smile was ear to ear for hours!

It is good to have Eric home. After being back a week, he is finally starting to feel better. We are both relieved to have him feel like himself again.

Here are some pics of the latest in our world....

Look at that fun personality coming out! love it!

Meal time is messy and fun! finger painting or eating? sometimes its hard to tell. :) Here Sophia is having avocado and oranges for dinner while I cook. I love having her company in the kitchen!

Our little Miss up-and-ready-to-face-the-world. She usually wakes up happy from naps and nighttime...bright eyed and bushy tailed - all smiles that someone came to get her up ;)

One of the evenings I was still waiting for Eric to come home, I got to witness an absolutely beautiful sunset. Sophia and I just sat outside the bench enjoying God's gorgeous artwork. It was amazing how the colors progressed/changed by the minute...a wonderful reminder that God's mercies are new every morning.

Next up....we have two new skills....CLAPPING and STANDING! trying to get the clapping on video - she is so proud of herself (so are we!). We have so much to be thankful for!


Being "Mr. Shilling"...what a rigamarole

So usually Eric and I remember to notify our bank when we are leaving the country so that when we go to use our debit card that the location is already in their system and doesn't automatically shut down our card account of fraudulent activity. Well, we forgot to do that this time so Eric called me today and asked that I would take care of it (since he has very limited international $ to call the US). That way, when/if he needs to use his debit card, he can do so without problem. This evening, I called the bank and the first representative asked me for my name, acct#, pin, etc. I gave it all to her and then explained the situation, that my husband was in India and would need access to our debit account. She told me that she couldn't discuss his card access because of confidentiality so he would need to call himself. EXCUSE ME?! did you just understand what I said? I am calling about MY HUSBAND for a JOINT ACCOUNT that we BOTH have equal access to. You basically just told my right ear that I need to hang up and dial back because you can only talk to my left ear. So Ridiculous. So I told her (I was in no mood to be messed with. Mama Bear is feisty tonight!) that I would be hanging up, calling back, and since I have all my husband's info, there was no way she could prove I wasn't him. Haha. SO THERE. I felt childish hearing myself tell her my plan but her response was even one step further. She actually had the gall to tell me that now she would recognize my voice and that I had already told her that I was "elizabeth" and not "eric" so my plan wouldn't work. As IF I would be directed to the same representative twice! (*sidenote: I've never had such a weird convo with a rep before) I responded sarcastically. "What, you are going to put a note on our account not to let someone calling in with a female voice have access despite having all the appropriate privacy info?" Why was I fighting with a customer service bank rep again? So I hung up and since my husband needed me to take care of it, dang it, I was going to do what I had to do! I called a second time and got a male rep - PERFECT. definitely not the same lady I had just talked to. I answered all the questions correctly; he was very friendly and polite, never questioning why my voice was an octave above the average male's. He filled out the appropriate travel form, so Eric has access to whatever funds he needs from our bank during the remainder of his trip.
At the end, the rep said, "Thank you for your business. Have a wonderful day Mrs. Shilling.....errr, Mr. Shilling"
HAHA now that made me smile. :) Will the real Mr. Eric Shilling please hurry home to me?


Missing Eric

Eric is in India on a unique opportunity with Greensboro Day School. He has been gone one week and has one more week before he's home so we are officially halfway thru the two weeks.
We sure miss him in a big way!!!

Sophia and I have both had a cold this week, I think we are starting to come out on the other side. Last night was the worst night sleep-wise so far....felt like I had a newborn in the house again. She, pardon me, WE were up at least 5x. and at one point it was in half hr increments. sigh. nothing a good cup of coffee and prayer time couldn't fix this morning though. :)

The cats have been extra crazy with Eric gone too. Its like they know something is off and potentially are getting less attention than usual as I focus on little sweetie-pie 100%. Here is a picture of where Marzell started napping this week. Both cats slept in the crib before Sophia was born, but once she moved in, they were outta there! Now Marz is back...I think it's a jealousy sign. Of course Sophia thinks it's the BEST THING EVER to find a cat in her bed! haha she loves it and squeals/laughs, which is very effective at getting the cat OUT! :)

Here is some fun with Daddy just before he left. Makes me sooo thankful he doesn't travel often for work. I knew I would miss his help with Sophia since he is such a hands-on Dad, but what I am craving more than ever is his company during the evening after sweetie-pie goes to bed and it's time just the two of us have together. Looking forward to next Wed!

"Oh the fun things I do with Dad!"


9 Months!

3/4 of the way to Sophia's 1st birthday?? WHAT?! I've been too busy to notice because she is at such a FUN age! Her personality emerges a little more every week and we love every bit of it! Even the whiny, whimpering for the object she wants but can't have (usually mouse, remote, keyboard, etc) because it means her brain is making connections and her communication center is up and running! Hopefully we'll be able to turn those whines into "please" and "thank you"s.... :)

*as previous post states, Sophia has 6 teeth in now...4 top, 2 bottom. she definitely knows how to use them! Has been "experimenting" a little with biting recently....I think to see what Mama & Daddy's reaction is going to be when she sinks her teeth into one of us. We are practicing our stern faces with a clear "no" - she gives us the biggest smile like 'wasn't that fun?' little stinker

*nurses 4 times during the day, about every 4 hrs. She is still getting up usually twice a night (only since the last month or two). I am not sure why all of a sudden she started doing that but I think partly she is distracted while she nurses during the day with everything going on around her so she makes up for it at night. She only gets up for 10-15 min and is still sleeping 12 hrs (6:30-6:30pm usually) so the mid-night cuddles are a short season that I will just enjoy while they last.

*Weighing 21 lbs and wearing 12 month, 12-18 month, and 18 month clothing. It is interesting because her weight doesn't "match" the clothing size. For instance, 18 month clothing is supposed to be 24.5-28 lbs but some things fit her perfectly. I have always said that her volume is greater than her mass. She definitely is starting to "thin out" because of the mobility increasing (don't worry, still plenty of rolls to go around) :)

*babbles alot....mamamama, BA! BA!, lalalala, sticks her tongue out, moves it side to side and makes noise...hilarious. Also something that resembles a combination of "tsk, tsk" and a chicken clucking....love when you imitate what she's doing, then she does it, then you do it, etc

*really high pitched squeaks and shrills, loves going back and forth with this too

*Still loving bath time. Has started something new that I am NOT thrilled about, but just part of the territory...Sophia gets really relaxed in there, lets it all out, so I get to handle a squirmy, slippery, wet baby while I scoop, then clean the tub of brown residue, and re-draw the water. not the best but Sophia isn't phased a bit....she is always confused why I interrupt bath time to drain and re-draw the water. loves to splash and is super laid back about water in her face...

*Has amazing belly laughs. She doesn't give them out "easily" so when she's really laughing hard it is the greatest gift to receive!

*Still loves music...random, but she breaks a huge smile out for "The hills are alive with the sound of music...."

*Down to two naps a day! (most days, every once in a while its still three naps) It has been GREAT for being more flexible to do things in terms of bigger blocks of awake time

*loving food still. recent favorites: cheese, sweet potato, cheerios, peaches, banana, avocado, zucchini/squash, and peas. She loves to feed herself peas one at a time! so cute. Pincher grasp is really good at this point! so thankful for this skill - don't take it for granted!
doesn't seem to like apricots. so far it's the only thing she has really refused every time I try it. guess we'll shelf it for down the road.

*even though she is on the move and is our little wiggle-worm who doesn't sit in one place for long, she still enjoys sitting in our laps to read books!

*separation anxiety starting....

*loves the great outdoors! favorites include walks and sitting in the grass, especially while Daddy plays her guitar music in the backyard

We love you so much, sweet pea!