Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Coffee talk

Just checking in because it's been a minute...

I'll pretend we're having coffee together and just chat about nothing and everything while we catch up. And then you can comment or email me and chat about nothing and everything on your side and we'll have a wonderful cyber coffee date. I will love this. (Looking at you, Atlanta family and friends! I know none of you are at work today, what with the snowpocalypse. What better time to catch up with your favorite friend in Germany?!)

First things first...I woke up this morning to social media FLOODED with pictures and posts about horrendous traffic, scary road conditions, abandoning vehicles, being stranded miles from home, etc. etc. I read about 10 hour commutes to go 15 miles. I saw a news story about a baby being born in the car on 285 (oh my goodness. I can't even...). I "liked" all posts of smiling friends and family out enjoying the snow or safely snuggled warm at home. I checked each of my brother's FB pages to make sure they were home safe (Max had to abandon his car and walk 3 miles, but that's not bad, all things considered). I vowed to not complain about being frequently startled awake at 4am by the snowplows and salt trucks who deal with our winter weather here in Germany...never have I been more thankful for the ability to still drive safely when a winter storm hits. Atlanta, sending thoughts and prayers your way. 

Gosh, I love Atlanta. Even poor, snow-crippled Atlanta. Y'all stay warm. 

What else? We're 5 weeks (plus or minus some days) away from meeting our baby girl. This both terrifies and excites me. There are too many feelings. I channel them into things like "eating cheesecake" and "not doing laundry". The number one question I'm asked these days is "how are you feeling?" and I find it a huge struggle to answer this question. Here is the struggle: do I smile and say "great! Just love experiencing the miracle of life growing inside of me", which is a lie, but really what people want to hear? Or do I give the way-too-honest response of, "well, my right hand is numb all day long and I'm afraid of losing functionality as time progresses, my back hurts a lot (and I mean A LOT), sometimes I can't fit my feet into the shoes I want to wear, I don't remember what good sleep is and basically I'm just so exhausted that I need to lay down after finishing this sentence. But enough about me, how are YOU?" (this response makes people uncomfortable, I fear).

There's probably some happy medium between these two responses that is both honest but not awkwardly overwhelming to the recipient of that diatribe...something socially acceptable like "I'm feeling very pregnant, but doing well!" but you know how these things go...balance is hard. 

Do you know what else is hard? Putting on socks. 

SIDEBAR: Years ago, when I was working in our Atlanta office, one of my coworkers (but not someone I was close to or worked with personally) was pregnant and worked pretty much up until the day her baby was born...I remember passing her in the hall one day and kindly asking "How are you feeling?" and she whipped around and snapped "How do you think I'm feeling?! I'm 9 months pregnant!" Whoa. I did not know what to do or say. It was so uncomfortable. But now I'm like, Ooooh, ok I get that. And my feelings towards her have softened tremendously. END SIDEBAR.

All that said, I am trying (really trying) not to spend all my time complaining (or to at least complain with a sense of humor). I know this pregnancy and resulting baby is a huge blessing. I am thankful. I am excited. I really can't wait to meet our daughter. It's just hard to see past all of the "miserable" some days, especially when the outcome is so unknown. I have no idea what it will be like to meet her and be her mama...I don't know the reward that is at the end of this. HOWEVER, the upside... and this is my favorite thing: God knows when we need encouragement. And He sends friends to offer this encouragement in WAVES when I need it most. The past week has been especially hard and exhausting...and this is the week that my inbox has been flooded with emails and my phone has been lit up with texts from mama friends who are just a little further down the road than we are with their first little babies (and all of them are baby girls, how fun is that!?) ... and these mama friends have offered encouragement and advice and love and have been cheerleaders and reassured me that "this too shall pass" and that I will forget these uncomfortable days and my heart and life are about to be filled to BURSTING with love and joy and all of the wonderful things. I don't know what's to come in the final weeks of pregnancy or the first weeks of motherhood, but the encouraging words and advice and precious glimpse into the future that these friends have offered me has been wind in my rapidly-deflating sails. I am so incredibly grateful. More than I can say...

In the meantime, we had maternity pictures taken a few weeks ago to document this time in our lives. I've shared a few of these on Facebook and Instagram, but for those friends/family/followers who aren't on social media, here's a few of my favorites. I am THRILLED with how these turned out...we had to reschedule 3 or 4 times due to terrible German winter weather, but we were rewarded with a beautiful, sunny day. Don't be fooled though, we were freezing our buns off. (Worth it.)

Photo credits: What the Focus Photography


The belly (and belly button. It is so prominent. All the time.)

Our photographer brought the pink balloon. Such a fun detail. 

Some color in the drab wintry landscape. Love it.

Ok, maybe not so much a "maternity" shot, but I love this of the two of us...

Our photographer snapped this as we were walking to the next "location". It was so freezing cold that I would wear my jacket between each shot.

Maybe my favorite. I just love everything about it. 

Z looks extra military in this shot, which he will hate, but I secretly love. A lot.

Our baby girl

Ok maybe THIS is my favorite. 


I'm glad we made the investment to capture this season of life...so happy to have these pictures of our final days as two. 

What else? Oh, I'm officially on maternity leave now. Many have asked me if I chose to start my leave this early or if it was doctor mandated or what...none of the above! It's German law...pregnant German employees are legally required to begin maternity leave 6 weeks before the due date, and then it continues for 8 weeks past the baby's arrival. Germany, well done with the maternity laws! 14 weeks of maternity leave...what a blessing! Today is really the first day that I'm fully experiencing and enjoying my time off. I announced to Z last night that I would not be doing anything today. Nothing. The house is (mostly) clean and the laundry is (pretty much) done. Leftovers are in the fridge and that's dinner (don't worry, I still take care of my man). Everything else can wait. I need to just BE. To sit and sip tea and enjoy a heating pad on my back and pillows under my feet. To write (check). To read. To watch a chick flick. This is the day of rest and relaxation. Even Olive seems to be on board with this plan. She's been conked out on her bed for the past few hours. Good dog. 

Z continues to be incredible. I could write pages about how wonderful he has been during this pregnancy. He is wonderful anyways, but there's another level of wonderful that has emerged over the past months. He deserves all the awards for fulfilling pregnancy cravings, listening to all of the thoughts/feelings/emotions/complaints, giving hundreds of foot and back rubs, and offering incredible support and encouragement on every level. And all of this on top of his very demanding day job. Amazing. I can't even wait to see him as a dad. I know I've said this before, but seriously...I can't wait. 

Ok, this got long and pregnancy-centric (sorry) and I'm tired and there's cheesecake in the fridge that needs to be eaten (the baby loves cheesecake). So that's all for now. Thanks for checking in and chatting, friends!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Perils of pregnancy and Great Dane ownership

So I've been wearing Z's t-shirts around the house because, well, I don't fit into any of mine. And I don't want to wear maternity clothes all the time. I am partial to maternity shirts that hug the belly rather than drape the belly (we want to look pregnant, not like we're trying to hide something), and when I'm chilling at home I want to be loose and free, not hugged. In fact, anytime I go out and have to wear a real outfit (classified as anything not yoga pants and huge t-shirts), I spend most of my time counting down the minutes until I can get back home and into my comfy clothes. Also, it should be noted that I am down to one pair of pants that fits. My friends here have been gracious enough to not comment about the fact that I am always in the same pants and working with a very small rotation of tops. It's just that spending money on maternity clothes is painful.

So...anyways. T-shirts.

I just kind of started taking shirts out of Z's drawer and he was finally like "Hey man, you're wearing all my PT shirts and I need those." (Non-Army folk, soldiers have a special uniform for their daily physical training (PT). You know the ones, the grey t-shirts with ARMY written in black across the front. They're super comfortable, especially if they're nice and worn out). So I'm like "well...why don't you go through your t-shirt stash and pick out a few that you don't wear anymore and I'll just use those?" (Compromise. It keeps the marriage healthy.) So he sets aside 4 or 5 t-shirts for me and we're both happy.

Then the other night, I'm cooking a dinner full of garlic and onions and grilled chicken. The grill pan starts to smoke and suddenly the whole house is kind of hazy and smelling very...flavorful. Yeah, we'll say flavorful. Dinner turned out great, but afterwards I'm sitting there and I just can't handle the smell that has firmly attached itself to my (previously Z's) shirt. I have the super powerful pregnancy nose. So I say "hey, can you go grab me another shirt? I can't smell this all night." Z goes down into the laundry room where these is a fresh stack of clean shirts and picks one out and I'm free of the garlic/onion/chicken shirt.

But then I'm sitting there and I'm thinking "something smells...weird." I know it's not me, because I am freshly showered at this point. So I do a little sniffing and realize it's this shirt. What the heck?! What IS this smell? It's not dirty, it's not sweaty, it's not moldy...but it's...something.

I think for a little bit...and then I remember that this happened...


Not long ago, for whatever reason, Z decided to put a shirt on Olive. We found it kind of hilarious and, surprisingly enough, Olive really loved her t-shirt. She happily wore it for a few days and then we took it off and moved on with life.

But now I'm sitting here in this freshly-laundered-but-still-funky-smelling shirt and I realize...I'm wearing THE DOG SHIRT.

"ZACH! You gave me the DOG SHIRT. That's why it smells weird!!"

Gross. A new shirt was quickly procured and the dog shirt will no longer be in the "regular laundry" rotation. Such a mistake cannot happen again.

Bleh. That's what you get for sharing clothes with your dog.

It's a good thing our big stinky dog is such a sweetheart...although I will not miss the days of wearing Z's shirts once this baby arrives and the belly disappears, I know Olive will be a little bit sad to not have her favorite headrest. Hopefully she'll be as sweet to the baby as she is to the belly...

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year Things... 3 of them

Sigh.

I usually make goals for the new year. My dear friend, Anna, and I will make a list of a few different goals we have, swap lists, and then (ideally) discuss throughout the year, offer encouragement and feedback, and then do a year-in-review conversation after it's all said and done.

This year (2013) our conversation went something like this:

Anna: We haven't talked about resolutions yet.
Me: I recently looked over my 2013 goals and felt immense failure. Zero accomplishment.
Anna: I was worried about that for myself.
Me: Have you looked at yours?
Anna: Yeah...not so much.
Me: Well. This was a year of lots of transition for both of us. So there's that.
Anna: There is that.

Listen. This is ok. I mean, it's not what you hope for when you set goals for a year, but there's got to be grace. Another dear friend, Cameron, recently sent me this in response to an "SOS-I'm-freaking-out-about-the-things-I-need-to-get-done-but-have-not-done" email, and I love it. (I have really great friends.)



 So...in light of that great reminder, we'll try again this year. (In my and Anna's defense, we've been doing this goal-setting for a few years now and I think this is the first year that neither of us has accomplished any of the goals we set).

We have yet to swap our official 2014 goal list, although I'm hopeful that we still will. It's just that I find it difficult to set goals when I'm facing such a huge, life-changing event like "having a baby". It's just so UNKNOWN.

Ok yes, every year is a huge unknown; this is true. But...you usually have some sort of "idea" or, if you're really overachieving (knock it off), a PLAN for the year. Some super high-functioning people may even be able to adjust their goals based on transitions/changes they did not anticipate over the course of the year, therefore still successfully meeting these goals when the year closes, despite the unexpected twists and turns. THOSE people...ugh. I'm out of breath just considering this (that may be pregnancy though, who can tell?).

I digress. What I think I'm trying to say is that I'm super aware of how hugely UNKNOWN this year is...and that is a vulnerable feeling. I prefer to at least live with the delusion of control over what may happen, therefore shaping my goals based on what I can expect the year to look like. For example, one of my goals for last year was to learn German (not fluently, of course, but to at least become conversational). This was based on my expectation that I would have time to invest in working through Rosetta Stone lessons throughout the year. Woops. The first half of the year I was drowning (not dramatic, true) in work and did not have one extra drop of time or mental energy to put into German lessons. Then we found out I was pregnant, I stopped working full-time, and it was downhill from there. I can order food like a champion, but if our German conversation veers from what I want to eat, suddenly mein Deutsche ist nicht sehr gut.

That being said, looking at this year, I don't know what goals to set. I know what I'd LIKE to accomplish, but there is the fear that this baby will so turn our world upside down that come December 2014, I'll look back and laugh over the goals I set. Is that a reason to not make goals? No, certainly not. But I just don't even know where to begin.

Cameron, of the above "grace not perfection" reminder, was offering encouragement to me and passed along a great tip that she had picked up from a design/organizational blog she follows...make a to-do list that only has 3 lines. Limitless to-do lists are too overwhelming (and if you don't cross off the majority or all of the items, you feel defeated. And by "you" I mean "me")...so choose the 3 most important things and focus on those. And they don't have to be things you dread, like "all the laundry". It's YOUR list, so if one of your items is "quality time with Z: feed him a real dinner and sit next to him on the couch", that is totally allowed. Bonus! You'll feel like a boss when you cross that off the list. Anyways, this approach seems right up my alley (especially these days when my energy is so very limited. Where is this 3rd trimester energy surge that I keep hearing about?).

I think I will do this with 2014 goals. Choose 3 "most important" things. Tangible things that I want to focus on regardless of what the year brings...things that will be beneficial for me, for Z, for our new family with Baby Landis...that I can look back on and say "Yes, I accomplished this, in spite of the changes and transitions and unexpected things. Cross it off the list."

So. That's what I'm thinking. This feels manageable and, for me, better than throwing up my hands and counting this year as a "pass" for any focused personal improvement and growth because it just feels too hard or overwhelming in lieu of what we're facing.

3 things. I can do that.