Coming to a close

My time in the US is almost over. The week before one leaves is always a strange feeling. Like you want to get in everything and everyone that you possibly can, scrambling to get it all done. I felt that way leaving Hamburg, and I feel that way now. Every time I think about it, I feel a little bit teary.

Everything will be so different once I get back. Theo starts at Kita, I start back work. A new normal will emerge, and we’ll have to get used to a new routine. As with any big change, I feel a little bit apprehensive about how it will all be. It will be an adjustment, but I’m also sure it will be fine in the end. It’s just a lot to think about right now.

We went to Ocean City with the family two weeks ago. And we went to Chicago last week, just the three of us, and enjoyed a nice visit. My cousin, Jen, lives there and she hosted us there for the week. We had a fabulous time getting to explore the city, and I even got to visit a few old high school friends who have since moved out there. We have had wonderfully warm weather…which I am definitely going to miss when I’m back in Hamburg. (A friend just emailed me that it already feels like fall there and you need a sweatshirt. Yuck! It’s not even August yet!)

I feel like I’m all over the place here. I’ve definitely gotten out of practice of writing. I just haven’t needed it as an outlet as much recently because of all the travel and just hanging out here at home. I hope I will make more time for writing later, once I’m back in Hamburg and life works back toward “normal”. With two weeks away with little internet access, I’ve come to realize something. This long stay in the US has been nice to disconnect a little bit. Living without a smartphone has been strange.

I’ve checked less instagram, read maybe only 1 or 2 blogs, and even let my emails pile up, which then stressed me out to have so many unread emails. And I realized that I need a change. I need to simplify my online presence, unsubscribe from email lists, and take a few blogs off my reading list. Because I noticed that I haven’t really missed it, and the sheer volume of information out there that I feel the need to catch up on is overwhelming, and that’s strange to me. It feels so unreal. It’s been a nice break, and I may need a little more time to work through these changes coming up in my life and get back to a routine before I’m back here, regularly posting about my life. Bear with me. I do hope you are all enjoying your summer, and I hope to find you back here when I’m ready.

Back in Maryland

Whoo boy, lots to update! But just a quick one for now…

Theo and I flew home to the States on June 2nd. He rocked the plane ride (and I ended up with an extra seat next to me, yay!) and I survived a transatlantic journey alone with my 12-month-old.

My 12-month-old is now a 13-month-old as of yesterday and my mom hosted a[nother] birthday party for him here at our house last weekend. It was so much fun. More on that later once I can access some better pictures. :)

I don’t have many pictures right now BECAUSE I FORGOT MY COMPUTER CHARGER. Oops. Tobias is coming in July, so I will have him bring it with him when he comes. So I stole a few off Facebook that my friends and family have posted for now.

It’s strange and interesting how normal everything feels. As if I’d never been away. Which is exactly how I felt last time I went back to Hamburg after Christmas. Everything felt normal there, too. There are a few things I miss, of course — my husband being at the top of that list! — but for the most part, I feel very at home here. Which makes sense, because I’ve still lived here longer than I’ve lived overseas, but one day that balance will shift and I’ll have lived abroad longer than in the place I was born. I wonder what that will feel like. But for now, I’m feeling GREAT and I’m so happy to be a part of my family’s regular, everyday life again. It just feels…comfortable.

Theo’s language skills have increased exponentially since he’s been here. His first new word? CAT. He loves chasing around my mom’s cats. One of them, Murrfee, is pretty mean and generally keeps to herself, but the other, Mollie, is surprisingly patient with Theo and puts up with a lot of not-so-gentle attempts at petting from him. He keeps trying to give her his toys, too. She’s scratched him three times already, which sounds like a lot, but seeing as he spends at least 70% of his day chasing after her, that’s not all that bad. The first day, she scratched him right next to his eye, though — I’m so glad she missed his eyeball!

He’s also been repeating a lot of words, including HAT, EGG, and THANK YOU. And he often points at things and says DAT, asking for more vocabulary words. It’s been fun. I’m not-so-secretly happy that his English is doing so well right now. It will surely change once he’s at his Kita (daycare) come mid-August.

Theo got to see some turtles for the first time yesterday. They were hanging out in the courtyard at my mom’s school. I just love watching him. He’s got such curiosity about everything.

We’ve been thoroughly enjoying this warm, summery weather. Thank God. A real summer. Complete with trips to the pool (or splashing around in the baby pool out back), lunches outside on the deck, and shorts, tee-shirts and flip flops. And finding ways to cool down, like eating fudgesicles or drinking Slurpees. I let Theo have his first taste of both, and he loves them, of course.

Summer is good. Life is good.

A year ago

Having the timehop app is the best when you have a baby / kids. It’s so amazing and wonderful to get little glimpses of how life was this time last year!

This one is from a few days ago. He was just 3 days old, I think, and we were still in the hospital. Tobias photoshopped this tattoo on Theo because of his muscle man pose. So hilarious and handsome!

Fun times

Peekaboo!

A few things have finally been checked off the list.

Trip to Paris, check. (It was awesome!)
KITA-Gutschein, check.
Taxes sent off in the mail, check. (Why haven’t I e-filed yet? I don’t really know!)
Theo’s first birthday “party”, check.

“Party” because it was only just us and his Oma & Opa, but there was cake (which I accidentally made salty…oops!), a birthday crown, and presents. My own parents are throwing Theo another first birthday party in June when we get there. That’s in just a couple of weeks! Crazy!

These last few weeks before I fly out on June 2nd are jam-packed with activities and meet-ups, trying to see people again before I’m gone for two months. When we come back, there’s not much time before Theo starts at KITA, I start back at work (two weeks earlier than planned, but it works out best for everyone that way, ::tear::) and life as we know it changes again. Whew. Change is hard; change is good. I don’t want to go back, nor do I want to have to leave my baby toddler all day. But he will have a blast, I’m sure, and I will get back to earning some money and talking to other adults about topics other than babies. I’m sure it will be fine.

Oh, and a month ago, back when I mentioned that it was time for some sleep training? I ordered a book (The Happy Sleeper), stuck to the plan, and things have improved exponentially. He still wakes up in the middle of the night (and wakes us me up, too), but he usually settles back down before we even have to go in there. The first few nights involved more check-ins, but he quickly figured out the pattern and now we don’t have to check in with him as much. The situation has vastly improved. I hope at some point he won’t cry as much in the middle of the night, causing me to also wake up, but it’s already a big help that he doesn’t need me to fall back asleep again.

I’ve also gone about a week or two now with no night feedings, which happened organically as a result of the sleep training. I still nurse him in the mornings, after naps, and at other various points during the day when he asks for milk, so I’m glad that night weaning hasn’t seemed to affect my supply too much. The body is an amazing thing. I’m not ready to stop yet, so I’m glad this is still working for us.

The only big thing, other than packing, that I want to finish before we fly is a DIY soft book I’m making for Theo. I wanted him to have a new book (and something not too heavy!) for the airplane, so I figured I would make him one. I hope he will like it. I will share that when it’s done!

As my Elternzeit is coming to a close, I keep thinking about how this is it. This is the life. This has been one of the best times of my life, and we’re living it now. I’m trying to keep that in mind, be present, and enjoy it. Besides, I still have two months left, and I’m so grateful for this free time to be able to spend with my family and friends in the States.

Okay, before I ramble on too much, I think I’ll go try to work on that soft book before Theo wakes up again.