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!