Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen 2013: Year in Review

Is it just me or did New Year's Eve sneak up big time this year? I am not ready. I doubt I will make it to midnight. That just feels...excessive and exhausting. I would like to blame pregnancy for this, but I think last year I was in bed around 10pm too, sooo... 

But here we are...about to say goodbye to 2013 and facing another new year.

I am sitting here with my (doctor approved, very small) cup of coffee, surveying a house that needs a little TLC and a Christmas tree with only ONE of the 7 strands of lights still lit (I can't even talk about it...too distressing). Z is at work for the first time in a week and I feel a little lonely and unhinged without him around. I've been spoiled by his constant presence this holiday season and I've loved every second of it. Olive is outside, probably digging a giant hole and collecting lots of mud on her paws and face to bring into our house. But hey, that's ok, mama needs to vacuum anyways, right? Sigh.

But instead of vacuuming or un-decorating the very sad tree (NOOOO!) or doing something equally productive (little tiny baby clothes need washing, for starters), I'm sitting here reflecting on the last year. I did this last year too and realized that this is a very good exercise for me personally, because I tend to have a horrible memory...so it's beneficial to record what happened this year for memory purposes AND to reflect on what we accomplished (or didn't accomplish), what changes and challenges we experienced, and how our life has evolved in 12 months. Also, this reflection on the past year is easier for me than considering the upcoming year, which overwhelms me at this point. A lot of this has to do with the little one currently performing a martial arts routine on my ribs. I mean, we're having a CHILD. Whoa. But also, the year isn't over yet...2014 will get due attention when it arrives. For now, 2013...let's remember what this year held:

- We traveled to 16 new cities in 9 countries (and re-visited some cities with our visitors). Highlights include Valentine's Day in Paris, a long week laying in the sun in Spain, and Florence and Rome with my parents. Lowlight would have to be learning to ski in Norway (still recovering emotionally). 

- We had visitors! So many visitors...and we loved having our house full of family and friends. (Please come visit us! Seriously.)

- Z took company command in February. While it was a big adjustment for both of us (why does his phone ring so often at 3am?!), it's been wonderful for him career-wise and he's doing a great job. I'm so very proud of him. He works so hard and cares so much about his soldiers and their success. He balances way more responsibility than I would ever know what to do with and he does it all with extreme patience, humility, and wisdom. I have LOVED watching him face this challenging and exciting season of his career. 

- I took my first trip back to the states since moving to Germany! I met my niece and nephew for the first time, attended one of my best friend's weddings, and caught up with friends and family. The only downside was that Z did not accompany me on this trip. Otherwise, it was wonderful. And I got to eat everything I had been missing...Mexican food! Chick-fil-a! Waffle House! Mmm.


- I spent the first half of the year in Munich. This is not an exaggeration. My work took me to Munich almost every week from January through May. The stress of being away from home this much combined with the stress of my job led me to...

- quit my job! But before this was finalized, my company offered me a part-time position (with no travel), which I accepted. I started working 20 hours a week exclusively from home in July. This transition to part-time employment has turned out to be one of the best decisions we made this year.

- Part-timing allowed me to invest more time and energy into making friends and "settling" more into life in Germany. I joined a Bible study and have made some great friends and finally found a "community" here. It's been WONDERFUL. Z and I have enjoyed spending more time with these friends and it's been so good for us individually and as a couple. We've learned that you really need other people, no matter how happy/content you are together.

- I read 28 books. Really 28.5...if I'm REALLY focused today it will be 29. I include this because reading is a big part of my life and I always like to keep track of what I read each year (shout out to the goodreads app for being the BEST way to do this). I didn't read as much as I hoped/wanted to (looking at you, full-time-high-stress job)...and I imagine this will only decline more in the coming years with little one(s) to care for...but I hope it will always be a priority for me.

- Oh right, then there's this...we found out we were pregnant! We're going to be parents. That's a pretty huge thing that happened this year. It led to a lot of "this is the last (fill in the blank) before kids" moments. SIDE NOTE: That's a bittersweet feeling. It's hard to juggle the emotions that come with the first pregnancy. People should tell you this. But they don't. So I will, in case there's any other first-time-moms-to-be reading this (or anyone planning on becoming a mom in the future): It's ok to feel simultaneously sad about your last Christmas (or whatever) as two while being so incredibly excited about the impending arrival of your child and daydreaming about what baby's first Christmas will look like. It's ok to mourn the loss of "just us" while melting at the thought of seeing the man you love as a daddy (stop it, it's too much to handle). Cut yourself a lot of slack...don't forget that hormones are probably 90% to blame for, well, just about everything right now. You're allowed to feel how you feel. Also, have a nap. Even if it's only 9:30 in the morning. You've already accomplished more today than most of the population, what with the whole "growing a baby" thing that's going on. High five to you. END SIDE NOTE.

- we spent our 2nd holiday season away from our families. It was easier this year than last year, but still made me feel a little bit like crying. However, I also found myself really cherishing our time together. There's something really, really wonderful about spending Christmas alone with your spouse. I follow the blog of a fellow Military spouse living in Germany and she said this: 

Being away from family and all the Christmas traditions we hold dear has been hard these last few years, but (we) have also learned to adapt and create fun traditions for our 'someday family' to share. Now, I'm not saying ditch your grandma and hole up alone for Christmas, but if you've never experienced a Christmas just you and your spouse, maybe give it a go one year? 

I second this emotion. It may be a little weird and feel a little "off" but it's also so fun and sweet and special. AND (best part) you get to do what you want. We slept in LATE. We wrapped our gifts for each other and stuffed stockings in separate rooms around lunchtime yelling "DON'T COME IN HERE!" and "ARE YOU DONE YET?!" Then we opened our gifts together. I may not have changed out of my pjs all day. We had nowhere to go, no place to be, no reason to leave the house (for about a week, actually). And that is what I think I appreciate the MOST about our Christmases in Germany. They are so calm, so quiet, so low-key, and so relaxing. There is zero stress or frenetic energy. Yes, I miss holiday parties and gift exchanges and being with our families. But there will be plenty of years for those things. So I'm relishing the peaceful holiday season we had this and last year. I hope that we'll remember how they felt and try to take time to recapture that calm, peaceful spirit of celebration in the years to come, when our lives will no doubt be more hectic and busy and full of all the (very good) things that often distract us from what Christmas is all about.

Ok I got a little off topic there, but hey, it's my blog and I do what I want. I think that about covers the recap of 2013. I'm sure I'm leaving things out...but I hit the big stuff. 

Anyways. 2013, you were good. I'd venture to say you were great, in hindsight. Not always easy, but it all worked out.

2014, can't wait to see what you have in store (a baby, more job transitions for both of us, more visits from family and friends, a trip back to the states WITH A BABY ohmygosh, more traveling...and who knows what else).

Happy New Year! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in another country: Part 2

So Part 1 was all fun and games (if you consider trying to substitute asparagus for green beans in "Green Bean Casserole" something akin to fun), but Part 2 is a little more...what's the word here?...solemn? bittersweet? nostalgic? We'll see.

I read a blog post the other day that hit my heart in a soft spot.

These things I relate to, in particular:
"Because when you’re missing the one(s) you love for the holidays, it helps to fill the empty places with familiar sights and sounds.
Unlike a lot of military folks, my husband has been home for more holidays than gone. But we have spent too many to count away from extended family."
Ok, WE have only spent one holiday season (thus far) away from extended family. Plus this one. But it's still a big adjustment. Granted, we spent last Thanksgiving in Morocco, which made things a little easier since we could kind of ignore the holiday altogether. This year, we'll spend it with 50+ friends from our "church" group. It will be fun, there will be good food, but it won't be "home". To alleviate this "far from home" pang, I'm making my apple pies (one to take to the feast, one for me and Z to have at home. I'm blaming that on pregnancy. But also I would do it anyways. I love that pie). To embrace the adventure of a different Thanksgiving, I'm also making two new dishes. A grown-up green bean casserole and a savory sweet potato side (heavy cream and gouda cheese...need I say more?)...I'll let you know how they turn out. Who knows, maybe they'll become staples at our table.
"Because when you’re missing the ones you love for the holidays, the hunger for their closeness eases when you fill up on familiar tastes and treats.
And then there are those holidays piled-high like mashed potatoes, those spent with family away from family – friends who couldn’t go home, either. The plane fare was too expensive, the weather too tricky, and the work schedules too demanding. So we circled our wagons and brought whatever said “home” for us to our community table."
See above "apple pie" comment. But one thing I love about our Thanksgiving this year...people are encouraged to bring a dish that says "home" to them. There's going to be a lot of the "usual" fare, but also some fun new things that I'm sure will have great stories behind them. Things like sweet-and-sour meatballs. Surely there's a story behind that.
"Because when you’re missing the ones you love for the holidays, it helps to blend your own favorites and their favorites into new favorites.
If this holiday season finds you wishing you could look across the table and see those who aren’t there, know that it’s okay to lament their absence. Know that it’s okay to long for them more than your grandma’s homemade divinity. But also know that while your loved ones may be away, the goodness of God is not. Keep your heart open for His miraculous gifts, His just-try-it recipes for different but good memories. Your celebration may not look exactly like you hoped or planned, but it may have a glorious beauty all its own."
I am thankful we have a place to go for Thanksgiving, and good friends to spend it with. I am thankful we'll have all sorts of delicious food. I am thankful that I am not in charge of cooking a turkey (phew! Keep the streak going...3 Thanksgiving's as a married couple and have dodged turkey cooking every time). I am excited for this evening, when all of us "far-from-homers" will gather together and make our own "family" and stitch together a new patch in our quilt of holiday memories.
In the meantime, a big chunk of my heart will be in Georgia. And this is ok, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving in another country: Part 1

Ahhh, the holidays.

First, a list of things the commissary does not have in stock:

1. Sweet potatoes
2. Green beans
3. Heavy cream
4. Crunchy onions to go on top of green bean casserole...you know the ones. The best part.
5. Cinnamon AH-HA! Found a secret stash in a "baking display" towards the back. Nonchalantly reached for one so as not to attract attention. We don't need a mob situation happening back here. Kept a close eye on my cart. Was sure someone would go to great lengths to steal such a commodity. Did not tell ANYONE where I found it. Avoided all eye contact for the rest of the shopping trip. Every man for himself, you guys.
6. Pie crusts
7. Sour cream

Now these were just the things on MY list that I couldn't find. I can't even imagine trying to search for things like "turkey" or "ham". Or dinner rolls of any type. OR BUTTER.

This is the "problem" (I know, I know...rich person problem) with having just one grocery store for thousands of people. In the states you're all like "Ugh, Publix doesn't have a great selection of turkeys...Now I'm going to have to haul ACROSS THE STREET to Kroger (and you know how much I hate that Kroger ever since they renovated the store and changed the aisles all around...I don't have time to learn a new grocery store layout!) to look at THEIR turkeys. MY DAY IS RUINED!"

Here, it's like..."Hmmm. No green beans. Well. How does asparagus casserole sound?"

Thankfully, Z and I have both embraced "shopping on the economy", better known as "shopping at the local German stores". We actually buy most of our groceries from the German stores, but for something like Thanksgiving (or, hello, Cheerios) you really need the US brands in the US store on the US military post. 

Pillsbury pie crusts. That's all I'm saying.

But here is the thing. Our little German grocery is no Publix. There may or may not be green beans available. I will go look today. I may get lucky. Or I may be making something creative. I'll let you know how it goes. For everything else, I think I'll be ok. Sure, it will require a Google Translation of "heavy cream" into German. And I'm pretty sure they don't sell those crunchy onions in Germany (God bless them). But this will be ok.

In the meantime, a shout-out to all of those warriors who (like me) waited until THE LAST MINUTE to go shopping in THE ONE STORE where we can find our American staples. I really enjoyed staring at the empty baking aisle with you, willing cinnamon to miraculously appear (heads up, it's "zimt" in German. Go to the German stores. They have plenty. But good luck with the pumpkin pie spice. You're going to have to Google "how to make your own pumpkin pie spice". A plethora of options, my friends). Also, to the man who stood next to me in the produce section, on the phone with his oh-so-patient wife...cheers to you! I felt kindred with you as I Googled "are yams the same as sweet potatoes" while you said to your wife "well, there's these things that look like sweet potatoes...it says "yams"...do you want me to get yams? Well I don't know. They are...like...big and kind of reddish. I'm just going to get them. I gotta get out of here." 

Me too, buddy. Me too.

We avoided all of this last year by spending our Thanksgiving in Morocco. Little did we know how brilliant that really was...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Simple Thanks

We did it last year, so we're doing it this year too. 

I'm thankful for a healthy, growing, kicking baby girl that we get to meet in approximately 103 days. 

I'm thankful for Z...I'm thankful that every time I ask him if he's nervous or scared or freaked out about having this baby, he doesn't hesitate before smiling and saying "No, I can't wait!" I'm thankful that he doesn't bat an eye as the expenses of preparing for this baby slowly but surely add up, even when I voice my anxiety about it. I'm thankful that on random week nights he'll turn to me and say "Hey, you want to play cribbage?" and then we do, just the two of us, sitting at our kitchen table. I love this. I'm thankful that he works so hard, not just in the Army, but at home and at relationships. I'm thankful that he makes me laugh so often.

I'm thankful for our supportive, loving families. We miss you all so much. Thanks for being so excited for this new granddaughter/niece. 

I'm thankful for new friends. Friends that come over for dinner, friends that meet us out for date-nights, friends to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve with...I'm so so SO thankful for friends (finally!) in Germany.

I'm thankful for a job/life situation that allows me to rest as much as I want and need to on any given day. I realize it will be a long time before I'll have this luxury again, and I am REALLY thankful for the flexibility to nap frequently, lounge often, or sit with a hot cup of tea and a book for a few hours on any given day. So many people have told me to enjoy and take full advantage of this "rest period" before the baby arrives, and I am taking that advice and not feeling guilty or lazy for doing so. After all, even just sitting here I'm growing a baby, and that is pretty hard work. 

I'm thankful for email and iMessage, the lifelines to my friends and loved-ones stateside (oh and one in Zambia too).

I'm thankful for my job. For real.

I'm thankful for huge, needy, slobbery, goofy Olive. She's going to be the best "big sister" ever. After she (hopefully) gets over the shock of no longer being the center of our attention. We're mildly concerned, but a few serious discussions with her should solve this problem. She's pretty rational, you know, for a dog.

I'm thankful for another holiday season in Germany, even though it's hard to be away from our families. At least there are Christmas markets.

I'm thankful for this little blog...and for each of you who take time to read it and connect with me.

There's a lot more to be thankful for...in this season, and year-round. It's always good to take a moment and write them down, whether on your blog, in your journal, on Facebook, where ever. I encourage you to do this. It's almost (ALMOST) impossible to be upset about winter and snow and icy temperatures when you take the time to consciously list things you are grateful for. We have so, so much to be thankful for...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

ATY Makeover (woo woo)

I was getting a little tired of the old design, one that I just sort of threw together when I started this blog up nearly two years ago.

So now there's this. It's clean and simple and I think I like it...which is a bold statement because any type of change stresses me out, makes me feel inexplicably sad, and causes me some level of emotion distress (I'm pretty much a perfect candidate for military wife life, obviously. Woops).

I'm working on it. So here we go. A new look for Army There Yet...what do you think? 

If it is stressing you, making you inexplicably sad, or causing any level of emotional distress, just hang in there. You'll feel better soon. You'll probably come to love this change. In the meantime, I suggest coping with some hot chocolate and a bowl of Cheerios. This works almost every time. We'll get through this.


UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Just ignore everything that happens here for the next few hours...days?

We're under construction.

Stand by!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Unload

There's no rhyme or reason to this post, just some things.

1. It has not snowed yet. This is truly a miracle AND a gift. And even though my iPhone weather app shows a little snowflake on Wednesday of this week, I will not be discouraged. Because it's November 16th, you guys. And we haven't had snow yet. Surely that's a record of some kind.

2. The sun sets around 4:30pm these days. Which means I'm ready for dinner by 4:35, which means I'm ready for bed by 5:15. Thankfully, I'm pregnant so following through on these readiness impulses is totally acceptable. 

3. Speaking of winter and being pregnant...I highly recommend this. I'm not NEARLY as cold as I usually am. It's like I have a little built-in heater. Amazing. (Note to self: never be pregnant in the summer)

4. Have we talked about my belly button yet? It is prominent. Protruding, even. And it is the number one thing people comment on when they see me. This is something I've never dealt with before...what do you say when someone points out your belly button? "Oh yeah...yep...there it is!" Help me out here. Also, a lot of my time and energy is spent being very concerned it will never return to normal. I'm only 24 weeks along...is it going to stick out further?! Surely not. Right?

5. This week, we learned a pipe has burst under our house. Upon arriving and surveying the scene, the contractor who is fixing this issue drew me a picture (he's German and his English is lacking) and then shook his head and said simply "very big problem". Then he left, leaving a hole in our basement floor and all water damage untouched and unfixed. We haven't heard anything since. Mildly concerning.

6. I had to pause writing this post to get up and get ice cream topped with chopped up M&Ms and chocolate sauce. This is amazing to me. I do not have a sweet tooth and RARELY crave anything very sweet, especially not chocolate. We never have ice cream in the house. Pregnancy has changed all of this. We didn't even own an ice cream scoop until a few days ago.

That's all. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Baby Landis

Here in Germany we get an ultrasound every time we go to the doctor. I mean, if you're pregnant. Not just...because.

Anyways. This means that some people find out REALLY early (think 12 weeks) the sex of their little one.

Our 15 week appointment rolled around and I was so nervous/excited about the possibility of finding out the gender that my blood pressure and pulse were way elevated. Have I already told you this? I don't know. Maybe. I feel like I repeat myself all the time. Pregnancy brain is real, just ask Z.

ANYWAYS again. So I was so excited/nervous. And the doctor takes a look...and looks...and looks. Nothing. The baby is not cooperating. Tightly closed legs. Not moving. Nada.

Sigh.

Next appointment. Same thing. SIGH.

Next appointment. Same thing. SIIIIIIIIIGH. Doctor comments, "this baby does not want to cooperate..." I am concerned about what this means for our future.

Next appointment. This time, the baby is moving like a maniac. Kicking like crazy. The doctor just laughs and says "Sorry, I can't see a thing!"

Pull it together, Baby.

I decided that if we couldn't get a good view at this appointment, we would give up trying to know and just let it be a surprise. I should probably have discussed this with Z. But whatever. It was a moot point BECAUSE...


Another little princess is joining our family!! Baby Landis is a GIRL!

Olive is thrilled, as you can see. We are so excited!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Positive Thoughts (or sucking it up as winter approaches)

(You guys, I'm sorry. I don't know WHY the second half of this post is a smaller font. I have tried everything. I have rewritten and reformatted and all of that. No dice. It's annoying, but let's just blame it on winter and move on.)

It happened. Daylight Savings. We fell back here in Germany. And everyone's all "oh you get an extra hour of sleep!" but let me just tell you something, everyone...NO. Stop it. That's like telling someone with a horrible haircut that "it will grow out so fast!" It's false reassurance. False hope. False good news. The haircut still sucks. The sun setting an hour earlier still sucks the life out of me.

I know people who poo-poo the whole "seasonal affective disorder" thing or feeling down and deflated when the days get shorter (and colder and more awful)...and hey, that's ok. But just because YOU don't deal with it doesn't mean it doesn't exist (looking straight at you, Z). It's a real thing. I start to feel it as soon as the shadows get longer and the leaves start to change. I fight it. I resist it. I treat myself with care and reward myself for small victories like cooking dinner or staying awake past 7pm. I do little things to try to ease into the adjustment between fall and winter, to try to make it a little less depressing. But it happens, every year. The inevitable "slump". 

So it's time to focus on the positives...the good parts of life...to combat the negative feelings about the impending doom winter and all that this season has to bring. Today we reject the cold temperatures, we reject the 5pm sunset, we reject the naked trees, we reject the cloudy, dark days. Today we are cheerleaders for positive thoughts. Suck it up. Just for a few minutes. Then go back to radical self care, as Anne Lamott would say. Reward yourself with hot tea and fuzzy socks and Snuggies and pumpkin flavored goodies (or you know, whatever floats your boat). This too shall pass. Cut yourself some slack if you get hit by the slump like I do. You're allowed to feel the way you feel. But focusing on the positives is a sure way to give you just the boost you need to get through the first days of darkness, the days when the loss of sunlight makes you feel tired and heavy...at least it works for me! So here we go.

1. This winter, I have a giant, cuddly, dopey Great Dane to keep me company, get me out of the house and exercising (in theory), keep me amused and keep my feet warm. There's all those studies that say having a dog reduces depression and anxiety and promotes general well-being, so I'm feeling good about this. However, as I write this and glance at our sweet puppy, I'm concerned that she might actually be suffering from the seasonal blues as well, so we could have a bigger issue on our hands... 
Olive's seasonal slump
2. We just came back from an amazing vacation in Italy where we met up with my parents for a few days. This is always good for my soul. The positive vibes from this trip should keep me going for at LEAST a few weeks. My parents got to see me right in the middle of the pregnancy, we got to spend good quality time together, and hey, we were in Italy. All fabulous things. It still weirds me out that the next time we'll see them, it will be with our baby...     
All of us at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome

3. Pumpkin flavored everything. I've made this amazing pumpkin coffee cake. Twice. (I skip the drizzle, it's sweet enough with just the struesel topping). And these pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. Annnnnnd also these pumpkin muffins. A pumpkin cheesecake is surely in our future. (Secretly, I'm just trying to get Z to gain weight with me...pregnancy should be a team event, right? Unfortunately my attempts have been foiled because he works out, like, every day. SUPER annoying.)

4. HOLIDAYS. You know how I feel about these, right? I just love holidays. Almost any holiday. I love festivities. And decorations. And holiday food. And traditions. THEY ARE UPON US! And I am ready to decorate for Christmas. Seriously. But I will wait until after Thanksgiving, so just calm down, DAD. While it's still a little strange to adjust to the holidays away from our families, Z and I try to look on the bright side of these "just us" holidays. We get to spend time, just the two of us, merging family traditions and creating our own. It is an incredibly relaxing time...think about it...no where to go. No place to be. No one coming to us. Just us. And we will especially treasure this year because it will be perhaps the only time for the rest of our lives where it is just the two of us celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas together. So we will treat it like a gift and try not to cry or feel sad or lonely or envious of our families who get to celebrate together in the states. While I feel especially sad around the holidays about living so far away from our loved ones, I also am REALLY looking forward to another holiday season alone with Z. We eat good food. We watch a lot of movies. We get to stay in our pajamas as much as we want (this is especially exciting to me, as real pants are just less and less appealing with my expanding waistline).

5. Pregnancy. I will admit, it is hard to sink into too much of a slump when you have little baby kicks nudging you all day long. I have not loved being pregnant, but I DO love feeling that baby move. And while I'm nervous and overwhelmed about what's to come, I'm also SO very excited. We both are. We can't wait to meet this little one and each day brings us closer to that...so I think this winter will be special. Also, bonus! Being pregnant has drastically reduced my cold-natured-ness so maybe, JUST MAYBE, I will be more welcoming and forgiving of the icy winter air.

There we go. Positive thoughts. I feel better already. Now you try it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Am I missing something?

Someone asked me the other day, "Katie, do you have anything left to buy for the baby?"

Um.

"Anything left"?!?! How about "Katie, have you started buying anything for the baby yet?!" Because the answer is "What?"

Are there rules for this? A class I can take? Because I was unaware I should have already bought things for the baby. I have so much time for that. Right?

We have a crib (but no mattress). I was feeling pretty good about this until the above question was posed to me. Also, last weekend I walked into a pregnant friend's house and she showed me her TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, 100% ready nursery. And she's just a month further along in her pregnancy.

I guess I need to get on this? I need to get on this. 

Who would like to come get on this for me? Or at least send me a "How To Prepare for the Arrival of Your Baby" guide? You can leave out the "Select a Crib" chapter. We nailed that. Woops nope, we don't have a mattress yet. Leave that chapter in. Just in case.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 734: Our 2nd year together

I'm on my 2nd cup of tea this morning. Finally, a calm, relaxed morning. No work. Nowhere to be. Lots to do, but it can wait.

It's 28 degrees outside. Frost still sits on the grass. Olive snoozes at my feet. The smell of stargazer lilies fills the downstairs. The government shutdown has caused our American TV channels to be shut off, so all is quiet. 

So now I sit down to write about our 2nd year of marriage, just a few days late. 

Two years! Both of our anniversaries have been celebrated in Germany, a fact that continues to amaze me. The weirdness of living in another country still creeps in on me, yet at the same time, Germany is home now. Maybe not home in the way that Atlanta will always be TRUE home, but Germany is NEW home. It's where we've spent the majority of our marriage now. For this reason (and many more), Germany will always, always hold a dear, special place in my heart. 

Our 2nd anniversary snuck up on me. I would be lying if I said it was extravagant or exciting. (Remember how we spent our first anniversary in Prague?) But the truth is, it was exactly what we wanted and needed it to be. A night at home, just the two of us, cooking dinner together, flowers on the table, small gifts exchanged. I couldn't be happier with the fact that I got to keep my comfy pants on and didn't have to venture out into the cold night air. It was comfortable. It was sweet. It was very much like our 2nd year of marriage...

I've shared some about how stressful and overwhelming and emotionally exhausting our first year of marriage was for me, simply because of the amount of change that took place in our lives. Our relationship was strong and steady and growing, but life was difficult. This 2nd year, there's been a decided shift, even if it's only really become apparent to me in the last few months. 

Life finally "evened-out". We were finally able to settle, physically in our home in Germany, and for me, emotionally into my new roles in marriage, and work, and Army-life-overseas in general. Then we got pregnant and WHOA, hang on, who shook up my snow globe?! Knock it off.
That's another thought for another day.

We settled into our marriage, and in the best way. We've spent the last year traveling, welcoming visitors, working hard, taking a step back from work (for me), joining Bible studies, making friends and finding our niche here, together. And we LOVE doing life together. It's probably obnoxious, but I'm ok with that. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I would rather be doing nothing with Zach than anything else with anyone else. He continues to amaze and fascinate me, not just as my husband, but as a person, as a man. There's just so much to him...things that you really have to work at, to watch for, to patiently observe or engage in conversation over a long period of time to even start to discover about him. His mom has told me this since we first started dating, that he has many layers, and it couldn't be more true. I spend a lot of time wondering what goes on in his mind, not in the "why doesn't he open up and share with me?" sense (because he does that very well), but in the "I can't wait until he lets me see these latest thoughts, dreams, insights...". The thing about my husband is this: as you get to know him, you see so many positive qualities that make him a likable guy. As you get to know him MORE, you see how deep these truly go and realize how much more there is to him than what meets the eye.

I could spend a lot of time talking about these qualities...giving examples of his integrity and kindness and sense of humor and generosity and wisdom and strength, both in the workplace and at home. AND in his personal relationships. But as I sit here thinking about two years of marriage with him and the many, many years ahead (God willing), the thing that most excites and amazes and overwhelms me is that I get to be front and center, sharing his life, watching him grow, and discovering each new layer to him. Better yet, I get to play a crucial role in all of this. The daily gems, the little things he says and does, the way he loves me and cares for others...those are just bonuses. 

That's been one of my favorite takeaways from year two of our marriage. We've settled, and in that settling we've become more comfortable in our roles as husband and wife...and I've seen there's even more to Zach than I knew...and it's a good more. An exciting more. A more that I can't wait to discover... here's to the next 60 years (or more!) of more. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursday, First Trimester edition: A day in the life

I wrote this during the first trimester as part of my coping mechanism after weeks of discouraging, frustrating "morning" sickness...also know as "all-day-long exhaustion and extreme nausea with wild and irrational mood swings". It's a lot more amusing to me now than it was at the time. But that's life, right? Don't worry, I'm feeling great these days. And seem to have stabilized. 2nd trimester has been good to me. Although I still gag occasionally. And cry easily. But there's no way to prove if those two things are byproducts of the pregnancy or not...

Listen, being pregnant isn't easy (and anyone who has ever been pregnant and had any symptoms will tell you this, in detail. I think it's actually another pregnancy symptom: must share miserable details with any and everyone). Let me just give you a glimpse into a day in the life of 1st trimester pregnancy at our house. (Go ahead and send Z a care package, he deserves it and probably needs extra nutrition and/or treats).

Authors note: every instance of "cry a little bit" can be substituted with "gagged" without altering the integrity of this post in any way. 

Wake up. *blink blink* Don't move. We need to assess the situation. How bad does the head hurt? Are we nauseous? Move slowly...

Wander downstairs. Take a deep breath, hold, dart into kitchen, grab something ANYTHING that might sound good. This may be the only time I can eat today, so must make it count. Yogurt? Banana? Spaghetti? Grapes and refried beans? Yikes yikes yikes. Run out of kitchen. Exhale. The kitchen is a trigger zone for morning sickness. I have avoided it like the plague. I'm not sure what Z has been eating. I hope he has been eating. I should check on this. But talking about food is also a trigger so...nope.

Sit down to work. Conference call. Why is everyone so mean? IS everyone so mean? Or am I just being sensitive? Cry a little bit. Thank God for the mute button. Consider deleting all emails to solve every problem.

Feeling ok. Will probably take a shower during my lunch break. This will be the greatest accomplishment of my day. Think about trying to go to the store...gauge body's reaction to thinking about walking into a building full of food. Immediately reject idea. Immediately.

FaceTime call with mom later...should probably put on some makeup. Exertion proves to be too much. End up back in bed. Takes 15 minutes for world to stop spinning. Lay in bed for a bit. Recover. Makeup will remain half done. This still counts. Award self full credit for effort and ambition. Today was successful.

Exhaustion sets in, it must be at LEAST 5:30pm. Check clock. 1:45pm. Way too early for bed. Is it? It is. It probably is.

Olive being bad. I yell at her, her feelings are hurt, she gives me sad eyes. Cry a little a bit, distressed. Will definitely be the worst mom ever. Cry some more. Hug Olive until she squirms away, annoyed. That feels right. Maybe will not be World's Worst Mom after all. 

Think "how do people handle early pregnancy when they already have toddlers?!". Cry a little bit. Will definitely be an unfit mother for all of my yet-to-exist children. Cannot function. 

Sad/sweet/funny moment happens on TV. Cry a little bit. I don't even watch this show nor am I invested in or attached to any of the characters. I'm angry that I cried. Who can I blame for this? Will write strongly worded letter once blame placement can be determined.

Decide that the only thing that I can eat and sounds delicious is a mushroom swiss burger from Chili's. Am stuck in a German wasteland, an uncivilized barbaric country with no Chili's. Cannot believe I have survived here so long. Probably won't ever recover from this. Cry a little bit. The injustice is too much to handle.

Try to snap out of it and put things into perspective; must reel in all of the inappropriate emotions. Determine to not be so dramatic and emotional. This is too hard. I need a nap.

Z comes home and I've already been in bed for two hours. Life is definitely too hard. I ask him to do so many things for me in such a short amount of time that he makes a joke likening to me to the mouse in "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie". This is funny (and true), but I cry a little bit. He laughs and that's ok, because this is ridiculous. We know this. He is racking up treasures in heaven for how wonderful he's been during these weeks of sickness and emotional insanity.

We have to cancel ANOTHER social engagement because I'm not up for it, even though I have showered AND have done half-makeup. I cry, again. Frustration is at an overwhelming level. I will never feel normal again. Outlook is bleak.

I eat Eggo waffles in bed for dinner, teary eyed. Low point.

Tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow MUST be better.

Monday, September 2, 2013

TMI: Great Dane edition

I just need to share this with someone, ok? Misery loves company.

Olive, our beloved Great Dane, went into heat recently. 

Let me cut you off before your "But why haven't you spayed her like a responsible dog owner?" questioning begins.

Answer: German vets don't like to spay Great Danes. And if you find one who will perform such a surgery on such a large dog, they don't like to do before they've reached 1 year of age.

Olive is 10 months. We were so close...yet so far.

ANYWAYS. I won't get into the details. Let me just say, it's National Geographic all up in here. Emphasis on "graphic". Z is probably traumatized for life. We have both learned a lot more about dog anatomy and biology than we ever wanted. I've googled things I never thought I would need to know. And Olive is cranky and miserable because we've quarantined her, for obvious reasons. I fear we're doing irreversible psychological damage to this dog based on the way she's responding. 

Then this happened, adding to her trauma and eventual need for pet psychological therapy.

I needed to wash Olive's blankets and bed today. The ones she spends the majority of her days laying on. At this point, they need to be washed often. Again, for obvious reasons. And I like to wash them twice, just, you know...because. This double-washing takes about 2 hours, start to finish.

So I think, well, I'll give Olive this big ol' bone to munch on while she's banished to the backyard for these 2 hours. She LOVES bones and we usually closely supervise her bone consumption...meaning we'll let her gnaw on it for about 20 to 30 minutes, then take it away. This makes bones last like...2 months. Well, I was having guilty dog-mom feelings about how sad and miserable Olive's been while quarantined for the past week, so I thought "Shoot, I'll just let her have the bone for as long as she wants". Woops. Worst mom ever.

I kept an eye on her and she loved that bone for the better part of an hour. Then she got bored and wandered off to do other dog things and stare sadly at me through the door, whining occasionally and making me feel terrible. 

Finally her bed and blankets are done. So fresh and so clean. I make the executive decision to only put her towels back in her designated area; the bed was getting too much of a pain to clean. This turned out to be a great decision because...

Olive lay down, forlorn and sad, and started to whine and moan and groan in the way she's been doing for the past week. It's her special way of letting me and Z know how unhappy she is and how unfair her world feels. We didn't think much about it. UNTIL...

Olive starts heaving. And then proceeds to vomit the entire contents of her very large stomach onto the very clean towels. Z and I helplessly watched this horror unfold in a matter of seconds. I may have said something along the lines of "OH NO OH NO OH NO!!!" We quickly ushered Olive outside and provided her with a large bowl of water. Poor, poor Olive. It was quite clear that this was my fault. She had overindulged on the bone. 

The good news? We were home when this happened. We did not have to come home to a mess. Clean up? So easy. Just one towel got the worst of it. Do you have any idea how thankful I am that it was not on our white rugs?! Or on any of our rugs, period? WHEW. Things could have been so much worse.

But can we just take a second to bless Olive's heart? Poor puppy is having a rough week.

So yeah. That was our first dog puke experience, amazingly enough. It was pretty horrifying, but could have been way worse. And for the first time, I finally understand why people get little dogs...little messes. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Baby




I posted the above picture on Instagram and Facebook yesterday. Z and I are pretty excited about this.

Ok. Let's just get this all out of the way. This isn't turning into a mommyblog so don't get used to it. Or maybe it will. You never can tell.  

A list of the most frequently asked questions we've received as we've shared this news:

Q: How do you feel?
A: Right now? Tired. ALL THE TIME. But good. Weeks 6 to 11 were not so good. But they are over. I thought they would never end. But they did. 

Q: Was this planned?
A: We knew we wanted kids. 
(That's about as much information as I want to give you, mere acquaintance.)

Q: Are you going to find out the sex?
A: Absolutely. However, we've already settled on a gender-neutral family name: Zatie. It's a combination of Zach and Katie. (Just kidding, parents. Everyone calm down). 

Q: Have you chosen a name?
A: Please see above.
But seriously, no. We have names we like, but I change my mind almost weekly. Good thing we have 6 months to go...

Q: What's it like being pregnant in Germany?
A: Well I don't have anything to compare it to...but from what I've heard, the German approach to pregnancy/birth is quite different than the US approach. I've experienced this already with my prenatal care. Not bad. Just very different and not what I am "used to" or what I would have expected. But Z and I both feel like we are in good hands despite the differences. We use the word "adventure" a lot. The good news is, I'm not the first American to have a baby in Germany. The pressure is off. 
P.S. the worst part so far is not having access to things I have cravings for...like Chickfila. Or a Wendy's Frosty. Ooooh a Wendy's Frosty... But when I think about it, this isn't so much a "pregnancy" thing as an "every day" thing...so...nevermind. 

Q: Can I tell you my horrifying labor and delivery nightmare of a story?
A: Please don't. I'm prone to anxiety. 

Ok that last one isn't something people really ask me, but inevitably the only stories women want to share with me right now involve failed epidurals and broken tailbones. WHY?!

What I'm loving right now:

- Sara Bareilles newest album, "The Blessed Unrest". Usually on repeat while I'm working or driving. It's both soothing and upbeat. I mean, just check out her song "Brave". I get goosebumps... (non US residents use this link)


- Pickles. I eat about 12 per day. I am loving the sourness. 

- Lemonade. Sour again.

- Pinterest. What better place to find inspiration for a nursery?

- Sleep. Anytime. Anywhere. Any length of time.

What I'm not loving right now:

- Most food. While my morning sickness has passed, I still find food largely uninspiring.

- Smells. Every smell. We bought an air filter/purifier because I cannot even handle the smells of my own house right now. I have the nose of a bloodhound. 

- The Internet. Why is so much information so readily available? It takes a lot of will power to not Google any and everything related to pregnancy. No. Just don't do it. 

So there you have it. We're thrilled. We're excited. We're feeling so blessed by the love and support we're receiving from our friends and family. Thank you all. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Spain and an update

Oh heeeeeey.

It's been a little quiet around here recently because, well, we're boring.

But we just got back from a week in Spain and I have pictures for you! And pictures of Olive (for those that don't follow me on Instagram). And a general "State of the Union". Let's do that first.

So, at the beginning of July I dropped down to a part-time work schedule. 20 hours a week, also known as Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday. It is both awesome and an adjustment. I am really enjoying my free time and the ability to have a life outside of my job (read: take afternoon naps). But it is weird to take a step back and move into a more supportive role...waiting to be given tasks rather than having a really involved and proactive role. I still think it was a good decision. I'm certainly a lot less stressed. And I've read 3 books. 

Z continues to be very busy at work, so this vacation couldn't have come at a better time. We spent most of the week in Spain just laying by the pool reading and I kept saying "do you want go explore?" or "should we go do something?" but the truth was that we both wanted nothing more than to sit in the sun and have NOTHING to do but sip cold beverages and flip pages of our books. It was heavenly. 

Summer in Germany has been wonderful...reminding me again why I love this country (oh how quickly I forget the pain of winter). It's been sunny and hot...just perfect, except on those days when the temperature climbs into the 90s and we remember that we do not have air conditioning. Even then, I try not to complain...snow is so much worse.

So that is the update from us. Oh, except also, BIG NEWS. I'm growing out my hair. It's been short for about a year and I've loved it. But I'm ready for a change. I have already tried to mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the inevitable grow-out stage best known as "the mullet"...but I'm not sure I'm strong enough to stick it out. I feel like I just might cave and chop it all off again. We'll see how it goes. I will keep you posted, as I know this change makes you as anxious as it does me. We'll get through this together. 

And now. Spain. We were on the southeastern coast, Costa Blanca. Specifically, Alicante. More specifically, Moraira. Cumbre del Sol, if you want to get down to the real specifics. If you guys ever find yourself planning a Spanish vacation, allow me to give you the link to the villa we rented. Just look...





Our view in one direction

Our view in the other direction. Mediterranean sea. Ahhhh.

Our villa for the week 

Balcony off the master bedroom


From our patio. *sigh*

Our pool. I laid there all day, every day. 


Eating area...the whole room opened up to the patio for a fabulous indoor/outdoor experience.


Happy camper

Sunset over the mountains

I can't help myself

We grilled out one night...Can't get over the views.

Another sunset


We ventured into Moraira for dinner one night.



The harbor at Moraira





Little trip to Altea

Altea


Altea












I want to live here forever



Our dinner spot in town one evening. Right across from the beach.

One final shot from our patio...so hard to leave.

And now, Olive...

Big ol' pup

This is her "waiting for dinner" face.

Tangle of legs

She sleeps like this more often than not.