Holiday Memories & New Year Challenges
We’ve been in Germany for just over 10 months, now. Despite those tough months of transition in the beginning, this place is definitely starting to grow on me.
In November, my mother- and father-in-law flew out to visit us for Thanksgiving. After a few days of celebrating the holiday and just enjoying spending time with them, we drove to the Mosel for a wine tasting, had dinner with friends of theirs who live in the area, and delighted in the sparkly lights and festive atmospheres of the Trier and Kaiserslautern Christmas Markets (Weihnachtsmarkts).
Christmas in Germany is enchanting. Truly, it is.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to have Susan and Steve here! I was seriously considering hijacking their passports so they couldn’t fly back to the States. We were all so sad when it came time to say goodbye.
December was a bit of a blur, as it always tends to be, unfortunately. Every year I tell myself I’m going to work to be more protective of our schedule and intentional at home, and every year it seems to be just as crazy as the last, if not a little more so. We did make a few little changes to the way we celebrate the season as a family, though, and I think they made a difference. Maybe I’ll write about them another time.
Half-way through the month, we picked out our Christmas tree just in time to decorate it and enjoy it for a couple of weeks.
Before we knew it, we were baking cookies to leave out for Santa and singing “Silent Night” in the pews at the candle-lit Christmas Eve service.
Christmas morning was a flurry of ribbons and wrapping paper. Afterwards, we made a casual meal, had friends over for an early dinner, and Skyped with our family back in Texas. It was so nice to have a full home and see some of the faces we love and miss so much on Christmas Day!
My sister, Cassy, arrived the morning of New Year’s Eve and brought with her our beloved family dog, Layla.
Cassy had been taking care of Layla since we left San Antonio for Germany last April, and we’d been missing them both so much! Tears of joy may have been shed in the airport that morning.
While she was here, we hiked up to Burg Hohenecken, had dinner at a castle (Burg Lichtenberg), went out for Spaghetti Eis, explored Roman ruins in Trier, drove to Belgium to enjoy the ICE! Star Wars exhibit, along with waffles and beer, and made a stop at Luxembourg American Cemetery on our way home. We also went on a couple of girls’ day-trips to visit the Speyer Christmas market and Cochem Castle, just my sister and me. It was so nice to have that time with her!
With our last scheduled family visits for the foreseeable future behind us, I dealt with a few weeks of heartsickness in January. The weeks of rain and dreary days didn’t help any.
Then, I interviewed for a job I never thought I had a chance of actually getting… and I received an offer by the end of the week. I couldn’t believe it!
I started working part-time at the beginning of February, and I’m loving it so far! I’m so thankful for this surprising adventure. I will write more about it in a future post.
This month also seems to be the time of year sickness hits our family. February was a rough month for our family’s health last year, and 2016 has not been much different. We’ve dealt with a nasty case of croup, colds, an ear infection and a round of stomach viruses just in the last few weeks.
We did manage to all stay well for a weekend to celebrate Jacob’s 5th birthday, though, and we had a blast! He asked for a Star Wars bowling party, so we made it work with an Empire Strikes Back theme. So much fun! I can’t believe my firstborn is 5 years old! I think it’s true when they say, in motherhood, the days are long, but the years are short. My husband and I have been sifting through the photos and videos we collected in his baby and toddler years over the last few weeks, and our hearts have been hurting together. Looking back, that time was so precious and fleeting!
We’ve also had to go shopping for a new (to us) car unexpectedly this month, which is always fun! Ha! My husband’s vehicle broke down on his way to Belgium for work two weeks ago, and he was stranded there for a night. Luckily, it didn’t take us long to find something to fit our needs. Hopefully, this one will last a little longer.
Adding all of this to the stress of adjusting to a new job and family routine has been a lot to juggle, but, as always, we’re making it work together as a team!
And, that brings us to March…
We’ve had a handful of beautiful, Spring-like days here in the Pfalz. It’s still a bit chilly when we wake up in the morning (usually in the high 20s) and snow is in the forecast, but the sun shines through the clouds more often, the birds are chirping, and the tulip bulbs in our sad, neglected little garden are beginning to push their tender green sprouts through the cold winter soil. Although I expect we still have another month or two of grey skies and puddles to look forward to, these early signs of Spring make me happy.
One of the toughest things to get used to, I think, has been the wonky daylight hours. Throughout the winter months, the sun has been quick to set and slow to rise. It’s still dark for the most part when we get up in the morning, and the sun sets in the late afternoon – as early as 3:30pm. It was backwards in the summer when the sun didn’t go down until well after bedtime.
Thankfully, we’re all feeling much better… for now! We’ve been popping multivitamins to boost our immune systems and Vitamin D supplements to help with the lack of sunlight. On top of that, we’re doing our best to sleep, exercise and eat well to stay healthy, but you know how that goes.
I still haven’t made any real ‘resolutions’ for 2016, but I’m okay with that. I’m just about half-way through my last semester of graduate school, and I’m looking forward to putting all of these textbooks and research papers behind me in May! What are your goals and plans for the next twelve months? I hope you’re having a great start to the new year!