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!