Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The lamest update

I suppose it's been a while since the last post and that's because of floors that need to be swept and a dog that need to be fed (oh, and family that also needs to be fed. SO HIGH MAINTENANCE) and groceries that need to be bought and workouts that need to be completed and suitcases that STILL NEED TO BE UNPACKED (I'm so embarrassed) and a house that needs to be organized and also, baby molars coming in (whiniest season of life ever. Zoe is also whiny, so you can imagine what that's like).

Add that to my teeny tiny issues with transition and it's all I can do to make it to Zoe's bedtime (and escape into Netflix. I mean, have stimulating conversations with Z about the latest books we're reading. But really, Netflix).

It's worth noting that our stuff did, indeed, arrive. Mostly intact, which is a big win for everyone. My in-laws were in town and we powered through the major unpacking in a weekend, which is truly amazing. Since then we've had a steady stream of visitors (3 hours from family for the first time in 4 years means lots of visitors. It's so fun. I'm serious.) and we've started to find our groove here.

That being said, we are still only about 90% unpacked/settled (probably eternally). The other 10% is just exhausting and a lot of "No thank you I cannot deal with that box right now" and "Can you hold those up there so I can see how it looks? Ok, now reverse the order and move them to the wall right there...Ok...now can you move back to the original wall and just stand there for about 45 minutes so I can see how that makes the room feel?" and "Have you seen Zoe? It's super quiet. Where is Zoe?"

We are responsible parents.

Side note: Unpacking with Zoe was a lot harder than anticipated. She is very helpful and very fast, which translates into finding kitchen things in the sun room or bathroom things in the dining room. Basically there was whole lot of redistribution happening.

But we're (mostly) unpacked and settled and finding our place here. We found a church that feels like home. We joined some small groups (a married group and then a men's and women's group, respectively). I joined a gym (with childcare! *praise hands emoji*). We are settling.

The onset of Fall (or really, the changing of any season) makes me introspective and I think the bottom line right now is that I'm just tired. Not so much physically, although there are those days. Just really mentally tired. Which is why Netflix is my evening activity of choice. That requires very little mental energy. That's why blogging hasn't happened, why I don't make phone calls (and rarely answer them), why I get a little bit giddy about a weekend with no plans. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy myself when there are plans or friends or phone calls. But mentally gearing up for those things is currently a big hurdle. 

I've never handled transition particularly well and this has been no different. It's as if I feel like there should be a buffer zone where everything is allowed (or required) to move much slower than usual and you can slowly dip your baby toe into things for as long as needed to adjust to the water...no need to cannonball into the deep end. Be reasonable. But that's not really conducive to embracing the change and working through it in a healthy way. I know there's something to be said for not rushing through whatever it is you need to process on any level, but that is not the case for me. For me, there IS something to be said for moving forward. For getting the boxes unpacked quickly, for joining the gym sooner rather than later (for some reason I had a huge mental block with this one...no no, I can't go join the gym yet, WE JUST GOT HERE. So logical), for jumping into a church, for saying "yes" to invitations and play dates and volunteer opportunities. So I've tried to be more proactive about letting life here start and not having that weird, self-inflicted buffer zone of "no no, too soon to get into that. We just got here." Because who knows how long that could last? 

Anyways, that's life on this end right now. This post has been pulled together over the last few days (weeks?) because I write a little bit, get distracted or blocked, leave the computer, eventually come back, type a little more, repeat. But today, for the first time in nearly 2 weeks, we woke up to sun streaming through the windows and crisp Fall air welcoming us outside. This is especially a blessing considering the havoc the recent weather has wreaked on Columbia. The flooding has been devastating and it will take many, many months to recover some of the areas. We were fortunate to be unaffected...we were safe, our house stayed dry...we are incredibly thankful. Anyways, seeing the sun has energized me and I am finally going to press "publish" on this post, regardless of my thoughts about it not being complete or articulate or even particularly interesting. Because that's the lesson here, right? Keep taking steps forward...

Friday, August 14, 2015

WHERE IS ALL THE STUFF?!

It's just that we still don't have our stuff. So I'm taking a moment to pop in, say hey, but mostly just to release this into the universe and then crawl back into my hole of self-pity and general crankiness:

WHERE IS ALL THE STUFF?

It is hard to live in an empty house. Yes, it is 100% a first-world problem, and I know that being annoyed about this is a luxury in and of itself. We're clothed, we're sheltered, we're fed and I'm all cranky and ruffled because we don't have couches and lamps and ice cream scoops and paper-towel holders.

I was texting a friend and I said to her "I'm just annoyed that I'm annoyed, you know?"...meaning I was frustrated with myself for being so affected and annoyed by the inconvenience of not having our "things".

She said "YES! I do know. I think it's because we're HSPs. Highly Sensitive Persons."

I love that. HSPs. That is probably the answer to everything right now. This HSP needs a routine and order and the comfort of the "KNOWN"...and also her couches.

That's all I've got for now. Just no couches and lots of sensitivity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Adjusting

Exactly 25 days ago, Zoe and I landed in Atlanta.

Exactly 5 days later, Olive landed in Atlanta.

Exactly 8 days after that, Zachary landed in Atlanta.

And now all of us are in our new home in South Carolina.

A new home that makes strange noises at night that cause me to wake up my husband in the late hours and request a full-house walk-through (including attic space) while I cling to my phone (ready to dial 911) and the car keys (panic button, hello) because, seriously, what if some hobos decided to move in while the house was unoccupied for so long before we finally got here?

There are no hobos, so everybody can rest easy tonight.

We got back in bed (read: our respective air mattresses) and Z says to me, "Do you want to activate the security system?" because he is so sweet and kind, even after being PSSSST-ed awake for phantom hobo noises in a house that is perfectly safe and secure and also guarded by a very big dog with a very scary bark.

Turns out our air conditioner switching on or off makes a ruckus. Not hobos. (turns out, I'm thankful that Olive doesn't bark at every strange noise. What a false alarm.)

Anyways. We're here, in a completely empty house, feeling very happy and very overwhelmed (I think Z is not overwhelmed. I think Zoe, Olive and I are). 

Zoe, who was a champion on the 10-hour flight back and experienced only a minor jet-lag issue, has had nearly a month with both sets of grandparents and plenty of time with cousins and aunts and uncles...which was my favorite thing, but has led to a certain...situation...now that we're in our own home and it's just me and Z and Olive (so boring, apparently). She is whiny and clingy and very much wanting way more attention than we have ever been able to give her. BUT I am cutting her lots of slack because this has been a huge transition and I'm sure she's feeling the effects of all of the new locations and sleeping in a travel crib and everything else that encompasses a move overseas and staying in 3 different houses in a short period of time. And also because she's a baby. Babies get tons of slack.

Olive is constantly giving us sad-dog eyes and has also become incredibly clingy, but who can blame her? I'm not sure she's recovered from her flight experience (we estimate she was in her crate at LEAST 14 hours; 3 of those in a hot, dark, loud cargo building). She gets very nervous when she sees a suitcase or when we start prepping to leave the house. But now we are home and I think she'll be much happier in a few days (weeks?). Poor Olive. She gets less slack than Zoe, though. She's a dog. Snap out of it, dog. 

I am overwhelmed, but happy. I feel like the last 3 weeks were a very surreal vacation; there were constantly extra eyes and hands on Zoe and that was just so nice. I was able to see some friends, Z and I had a few date nights (we even went to a movie. In a theater.) Zach and I both feel like we're still just visiting and we keep talking about how strange it is to be HERE and to be staying here. We have so much we want to do with the house (painting. Replacing toilet seats. Yard work. Hobo prevention.) and thankfully we have the ability to really focus on those things because none of our stuff has arrived and there is no sign of it arriving anytime soon. So I'm doing things like "scrubbing baseboards" and "lining shelves". So adult. 

So that's where we're at. Sleeping on air mattresses, eating off paper plates, making a Wal-mart run every day because "oh gosh, we need sponges. And a bucket. And probably some Oreos". Adjusting, slowly but surely. 

 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On leaving Germany

I'm sitting here thinking about how to process our final days in Germany and mostly what comes to mind is how I've eaten the last 4 meals either on our hotel bed, on our kitchen floor, or sitting on our steps. It's basically camping. Go ahead and send me that merit badge.

Our house is completely boxed up, all the furniture wrapped tightly in what will turn out to be very ineffective bubble wrap. I remember sitting on our spiral steps 3 years ago with Zach, anxiously waiting for our stuff to be delivered into that sterile white space that was our new house. Yesterday we sat on those same steps, this time with our daughter and in a space significantly more scuffed and lived in...and peppered with dog hair and Goldfish cracker crumbs. Those sterile white walls we painted, the holes from pictures we hung, the little grimy hand prints and wet-dog-nose marks on the windows...all the signs of a well-loved home.

I remember crying a lot when we got here 3 years ago. I wasn't unhappy to be in Germany, but it was a very hard transition and often very, very lonely. It seems fitting to close out our time here the same way we opened it, with lots of crying. These are the best kind of tears, I think. The kind that are born from immense gratitude, fond memories, strong friendships, and seasons of growth and change. The kind of tears that sneak up on you out of nowhere and cause you to laugh through your blurry vision when you realize you're crying about the fact that you'll miss driving through little red-roofed villages or the sound of tractors chugging past your house at 6am. Today Zoe and I went on a walk in the little town we're staying in and we passed a house with a beautiful German shepherd walking around the yard. Zoe immediately walked up to the fence, laughing and saying "doggy, doggy!", and I stopped her just before her little hands were through the fence. I heard a voice call out from the front porch; the German man who owned the dog assured me, in German, that the dog was friendly and loved kids. He walked over and asked me Zoe's name and how old she was and when I responded, he asked me if I was American and then switched to English when I said yes. We chatted for a few minutes while the Zoe giggled over the dog, then we continued on our walk. As we walked away, tears filled my eyes yet again. Three years after arriving and being so overwhelmed I could barely leave the hotel and I just had a conversation in German (obviously not great German as he quickly realized I was American, but enough that communication was happening). We really have made Germany a HOME, not just a place we've endured for the last few years. We love this home. It's part of us now.

Two days ago we left Zoe with our neighbor so we could focus on finishing up last-minute tasks as the movers started to pack boxes. At one point I took a break and went to sit in Zoe's room (mostly because the rocking chair was the only available seating option at this point) and the tears came again as I sat in her very first room and thought about how our lives changed forever when we welcomed her into our family. One day we'll bring Zoe back and show her where she was born and lived her first 17 months of life. I looked out her window into our backyard, the backyard with 3 very large, very deep holes dug by our silly dog (sorry future residents!). We became a family in that home. First with Olive, then with Zoe. It's the only home Olive and Zoe have known. We're going to miss that little white house in Speichersdorf so very much.

I was worried this last week in Germany would feel frantic and fast, that I would be overwhelmed and uptight and that before I knew it we would be gone and I would feel like I had been pushed unwillingly through the final days in Germany without a chance to really process or enjoy the last moments. When you leave somewhere, it seems like there is pressure to be nostalgic and say your dramatic goodbyes and document all the "lasts" and be intentional about what you do and where you eat and how you feel. At least that's how I was feeling, and I told a friend that I felt guilty, on top of it all, for not succumbing to that pressure, for not having a week or two of choreographed "lasts" and "final goodbyes". She very wisely said something along the lines of "Oh that's too many feelings, you have to just let that go". And so I have. And in doing that, along with the prayers of many faithful friends and family members, I have been able to relax, to enjoy this week, to process leaving, to really soak in the things we love about living in Germany.

I'm sitting on the hotel bed as I write this. Zoe is napping and I'm looking out the window at a sunny, gorgeous German day. I'm looking over red roofs onto rolling green fields and it is peaceful and beautiful...and I think to myself, if we left in the middle of winter I would just say "good riddance and goodbye"...it's much easier to love and feel fondly about Germany in the summer. I am thankful to have this unexpected quiet, this gift of a slow week with time to take deep breaths and simply enjoy Germany for a few more days. And while I find myself welling up with tears over just about ANYTHING, I am also unbelievably happy. I'm happy to be going back to the States and to be closer to our families. I am happy that we've had such an incredible 3 years here in Germany. I'm happy that we leave with wonderful memories and dear friends. I'm happy that we're headed to a new home to make more memories and to reconnect with old friends as we make new ones. I'm happy that leaving Germany is this hard, because that is a testament to the time we've had here.

Today, even amidst the tears, I am at peace with the transition. I know that it won't be the case every day...there will be hard days where we ache for Germany and our life here, there will be days when I'm sure I won't think twice about it and simply bask in the joy of being back in the States (those days I'll probably be in Target or Chickfila). But today is good. Today I look at Germany with teary-eyed fondness and I look towards the States with immense excitement. I don't think I could ask for a better farewell.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Croatia! (and wrecking our rental car)

Ok. I've rallied. Slightly. Enough to finally post about our trip. Let's not get carried away though. I don't think I've accomplished anything else this week.

Our last European adventure was a road trip from Germany to Croatia, where we rented a BEAUTIFUL house on the Makarska Riviera. The goal of this trip was ultimate relaxation and sun-soaking and I think we accomplished that. Although I would not be adverse to going back to beautiful Croatia and doing a lot more sight-seeing and exploring different cities, etc. I almost wrote "adventuring", but then I remembered how I feel about adventures. "Adventure" is just a fancy word Z uses when he knows I will be stressed or overwhelmed (or both!) with whatever is happening. I'm on to you, Zachary. I'm on to you.

This trip did fulfill its adventure quota though. We wrecked our rental car. Real bad. There was a thick metal post (formally a gate post) that was just below bumper level, which means it was just below eye-level and just below rear-view camera level and just below reverse sensors level. And Zach just backed right over it as we were turning around after looking for parking down a side street. And there was a sickening crunch and jolt as the post hit the fuel tank. The car stalled out and would not move. Zoe was screaming so I jumped out to calm her down...and that's when I saw and heard the fuel GUSHING out of the very full tank. 50 liters gushing out and down the hill towards the beach. And I'm all "SHE'S GONNA BLOW!" because I watch movies and that's how it works. So I grabbed Zoe and said to Zach "I'm just going to be right over here" and quickly walked away from the scene. The whole experience was just sickening (my stomach was not ok the rest of the day)...I've never seen Zach like that before...that mixture of stress and frustration. To his credit he did not even curse or yell or lash out. He is truly a man of character. But the look on his face scared me, for sure. I thought "Ok, he's freaking out, so I really need to NOT freak out" and I took a deep breath, decided not to vomit, and said to him "Ok. This is ok. We need to call the rental company and we need to call the fire department." And within a few minutes the initial shock wore off and Zach found an English-speaking local that called the authorities and got things moving forward. The police came. The city authorities came. The fire truck came. It was super stressful. And then there was the whole "So now we have no car in this foreign country..." But even amidst all of that, there were so many ways that we were protected and provided for, and we are so thankful for God's provision. No one was hurt. We had damaged a rental car, not our own car (which we were supposed to take on the trip, some last minute repairs prevented this). We can't even imagine the nightmare it would have been to try to get our Honda fixed in time to drive it back. We had the accident on the first day of our vacation, giving us a full week to make arrangements for getting back home (and it turned out we needed every single bit of that full week as it was a NIGHTMARE getting a replacement car. The rental couldn't be fixed in time). Zoe had just been fed and was happy to wander around a nearby park for the few hours it took to get everything settled. I had my phone with us (Z had left his at the house). And the family we rented the house from was AMAZING. They came and picked us up, offered us one of their cars, checked on us daily...we were so fortunate!

So. Adventure.

Anyways, we adjusted our expectations and were happy to be "stranded" in such a lovely home in beautiful Croatia. It was a great way to say "farewell" to our life and travels in Europe.

 Here are pictures from our trip, including a stop at Plitvice National Park (amazing!) 


It was so bizarre to see water just rushing through the forest seemingly out of nowhere

Some of the clearest water I've ever seen

Hike through the woods, come to a lake. Repeat.

The lack of guard rails made me very nervous. How American am I?

Beautiful falls and crystal clear water

Those trees are completely submerged. Couldn't get over it.

Waterfalls out of the trees.

Every night after we put Zoe down for bed, Zach and I sat out here with a glass of wine and watched the sunset and talked. It was my favorite part about the trip.

Water baby


Tippy toes and leg rolls and ruffles. Absolutely.


Makarska harbour

Who is this big kid?

I wish you could smell this market. I wanted to buy everything.






My favorite picture ever (those matching hats kill me)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Moving...

I've sat down at my computer about 100 times to write something, anything. But as with every task these days, I find myself a little bit paralyzed. So I stare. I browse. I research. I Google. I may even do a little online shopping (PS, Mom a few...like, 5...packages are going to show up at your house. Sorry, I needed a mailing address in the interim. Thanks. Love you). I basically waste all of nap time and then I hear Zoe wake up and I close the computer and go squeeze that sweet baby. She is an excellent stress reliever/distraction. But then nothing actually gets done (including real, productive tasks, in addition to blog posts), so...I'll need to figure something out. Because Zach gave me a calendar with daily tasks to help keep us organized and stress-free as we navigate the myriad of logistics involved in moving overseas.

He emailed it to me with a very polite and business-like "Please note items in bold". To which I wanted to respond with "Am I getting paid overtime for this? What about 401k matching?"

I would definitely be fired by now if this was a business arrangement. Because my productivity is down. And my Netflix watching is way, way up. And my attitude is sub-par. Team player? Not me. I just feel like getting things done is too hard right now. Do you know what I mean?

I've been meaning to do a Zoe update, because she's precious and funny and I want to record her recent quirks because I don't want to forget the funny little things she's been doing and saying. I've been meaning to whine write about my traumatic wisdom teeth removal surgery ("No no, you don't need to be put to sleep" says the German oral surgeon. PS, 3 weeks later and I'm still on pain meds. That's normal, right?). I've been meaning to write about our trip to Croatia (our last hurrah *sob*). I've been meaning to post pictures. I've been meaning to tell the story of how Zach wrecked our rental car (everyone is ok. The stress took years off of our life, but otherwise, we're good). I've been meaning to write about our final days in Germany and our excitement about moving back amidst our sadness of leaving Europe. But when I start to delve into those things, I find my stomach starts to get a little bit queasy in that nervous, about-to-get-on-a-roller-coaster feeling. Either that, or I involuntarily tear up...and I'm not ready to go there, so that's an automatic close-the-computer cue.

Really, it's hard to pin down a certain feeling or thought right now. Zoe and I walked to the grocery store today (and got some goodies from the bakery, because our time to do that is limited) and I found myself thinking about how much I would miss that walk to and from the store multiple times each week. And then I got home and thought about how badly I wanted MooseTracks ice cream and how excited I was to get some when we get stateside. And that pretty much sums it up...one minute I am fully immersed in a very European aspect of life and find myself grieving the impending end of those unique things that we've come to love about living in Germany...and the next minute I am giddy at the prospect of going back to so many things we've missed about living in the States (CHICK-FIL-A). It's emotional whiplash. It makes me hungry and tired.

Mostly it makes me unable to function in a normal, adult-y way. Normal adults would look at everything that needs to get done and say "Ok. Let's start doing them" I look at it and immediately implode into some weird, deer-in-headlights space where I am incapacitated and absolutely incapable of doing even the smallest task. Thank goodness Netflix autoplays the next episode, you know? Z will come home and I'll look at him and sigh deeply and say "I didn't get anything done today" to which he will respond "Hey! You did things today! You did so much! You returned that bathing suit. You got yogurt at the store!" and I feel equal parts suspicious of his upbeat encouragement and absolutely in love with his unyielding support.

So that's where we're at over here. In this weird transition purgatory that is equal parts calm and anxiety-ridden, excitement and dread.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

All the Pictures...Cinque Terra (and other adventures)

I think there's a ton to say about this trip...but I also think I'm tired. So instead, a massive photo drop. I'll add captions to the pictures, ok? So there's that, at least.
 
B+ for effort on this. Maybe B-.
 
We drove from Germany to Interlaken, Switzerland to the Cinque Terra, Italy and then back through Innsbruck, Austria and finally home. It was delightful and more than once Zach and I had moments of "wow. This opportunity. These experiences. The travels we've had." We have had trips of a lifetime in 3 short years. And as our time here comes to a close, we are more thankful than ever and soaking it in as much as we can.

 
 
 
I love Zoe's face so much. Just a typical family shot in Lucerne, our lunch stop.

Lucerne, Switzerland

Oldest covered wood bridge in Europe

Please pass the Dramamine. Driving through the Alps

The sweetest

Interlaken, Switzerland

Stunning

How bad do you want to waterski across that mirror lake? SO BAD.





View from our hotel room in Interlaken.

We took the train ferry through the Alps!

View along the way. Couldn't get over it.

From our apartment in Monterosso. View of the other 4 cities in the Cinque Terra.

It was warm and sunny and the water was beautiful.

Couldn't beat the view

Monterosso

My heart

View from the hike to our apartment. Also know as "I had to stop here to catch my breath and decided to play it off like I just wanted a picture".

Post-nap snuggles.

The focaccia! The pesto! The wine! All of it.

Watching the city light up. View from our room.

Riomaggiore

Hiking trail.

Manarola

Vernazza

Favorite.

Riomaggiore

Corniglia

Tourists


Sometimes you just need to catch a quick snooze

Playing in the "sand"

Final evening, all 5 cities


Innsbruck, Austria. Whoa.

Innsbruck again