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 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 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 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 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?"


"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 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.