Sisterhood of the World Bloggers

Here’s another super old post that I never published! I answered several of these questions in 2015, but never finished. Now I’m back, 2 years later, to finish it up!


Courtney at Welcome To Germerica (one of my favorite expat blogs!!) has nominated me to answer some questions.(Back in 2015, haha. Oops.)

1. What is the most unusual item you always have in your carry-on?

Tough first question! I wouldn’t classify any of my carry-on items as unusual. I travel with normal things. Now, with the kids, it would be unusual for me to bring a book – because I would surely never have time to read it!

2. What is your favorite social media platform?

Instagram. I love all of the inspiring images there, and it’s where I chronicle most of my day to day life. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. That being said, I use Facebook way more often, and lately, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed with Instagram. If I miss a day or two, without checking to see what’s new, there are so.many.pictures to scroll through.

3. You are going on a weekend getaway 4 hours away. What do you prefer: driving, going by train, or flying?

Going by train is what we usually do! But before we had kids, I loved a good road trip. You can blast the music if you like. Stop wherever and whenever. But now, having two kids strapped into car seats doesn’t sound that fun for a long trip. I’d rather go by train and have a little more wiggle room!

4. What are you in the mood for: a relaxing beach vacation or a trip to a big city you have never visited before?

Beach vacation! For just a few days, alone with my husband! Sounds dreamy!

5. What is your favorite breakfast food?

French toast all the way, baby! God, I love it. But really it’s hard to choose, because I adore breakfast food. Eggs over easy with cheese on toast, eaten as the messiest sandwich ever, is a close second. And hash browns with ketchup, which I have never made at home before. I could eat breakfast food all day long.

6. Have you ever had a vacation destination not live up to your expectations?

Not necessarily. I usually have pretty low expectations of the places I visit. That said, we recently took a vacation to Oberstdorf and it was kind of challenging having all four of us sleep in the same room together at the youth hostel we stayed at, with no common room for us to hang out after the kids went to sleep. So we usually went to sleep with them, super early.

7. What is your favorite non-US TV show?

I’m a dork, but I watch Lindenstraße, Germany’s longest-running weekly soap opera. But it’s helped me learn a lot of German through the years – when I first started watching, I only understood about 10 words an episode. Now I can understand everything and it’s fun to see how they keep all the stories going.

Tatortreiniger is awesome, too. I can’t wait for some new episodes to come out, because it’s just so darn funny!

8. You are going out for the evening with friends – what drink do you order?

Fun drink? Probably a caipirinha. But…realistically? In the past three years, with pregnancy and then breastfeeding, it’s alcohol-free beer. I’m still breastfeeding so I don’t indulge in alcohol much yet. And honestly, I don’t miss it all that much. Alcohol makes me so tired and I fall asleep at parties. #lame

9. What is your favorite souvenir that you bought on a trip?

I don’t usually buy souvenirs! But while I was living in Paris, I bought some Paris metro boxer shorts that I wore as pajamas for many years. Too bad I had to get rid of them post baby! They didn’t fit anymore.

10. And lastly, share your favorite inspirational quote!

I find new favorites all the time. But one that is particularly helpful in this season of life is this: Tomorrow is a new day.

Speaking of Easter…

k7c2847_zpsbjoycdcz(Look at Baby Theo! Gosh, how time flies!) 

I spent WAY. TOO. MUCH. TIME. the past two weeks agonizing about what kind of Easter basket to get for Avi. Should it be the same as Theo’s? Different? Should I get them both new ones? What size? What color? Agh! I kind of went down the rabbit hole (pun totally intended, ha ha) with this decision.

I may have to file this away into my list of crazy things I’ve worried about for way too much time that actually have little to no importance, but I’m a Libra. Indecision is part of who I am.

Also, as a mom, I sometimes feel a lot of pressure to make things perfect for my kids. This Easter basket thing, for example. Growing up, my brother and I had the same Easter baskets every year for as long as I can remember. “These ones I choose now have to last for years and years! ” I kept telling myself.

But you know what? I confided in my own mother about my search for the perfect life-long Easter basket and she said that even ours weren’t the original ones we had as babies or toddlers, so not to worry. It doesn’t actually matter. In 5 years, will this decision matter? In 10? Nope. Make a choice and let it go. Because there is no perfect. Especially not in parenting.

In the end, I found one online that looks exactly like Theo’s Easter basket, bit the bullet, and ordered it. I will decorate it with curly ribbon in different colors just like his, and they will have matching baskets just like my brother and I had. Passing on a little bit of my childhood to my own children feels good. Who knows. Maybe it will become tradition. Maybe not. It’s all good. It felt good to finally make a decision.

Besides. The basket is totally secondary. They’ll be more happy about what’s inside them, not the actual basket. Well, Avi might like the actual basket, since he’s still too young to really appreciate presents. I bet he’ll end up trying to eat the grass like Theo did on his first Easter.

Next up, I need to decorate an Easter tree. I wonder how I will keep it safe from Theo, though? Hmm.

Lent

I’ve never really given up anything for Lent; have you? Was it hard? Were you successful? Have you given something up this year?

Growing up, my family never really did much with it. And even my current church doesn’t seem to focus so much on the act of giving up something for Lent. The Germans call it “Sieben Wochen ohne” – seven weeks without – and I do remember my church encouraging its members to instead do Sieben Wochen mit (seven weeks with!) and instead of fasting, to make a conscious effort to buy only fair trade products for the seven weeks of Lent.

But this year, I felt a quiet voice inside urging me to give Sieben Wochen ohne a try. A practice in mindfulness and being present in the moment.

In an effort to do less scrolling on my phone, I moved Instagram and Facebook into a folder on my iPhone so as not to open them easily. It’s crazy how some things become a habit. And how those habits turn into compulsions. Isn’t it crazy to feel like I have to see EVERY new post — and double tap to like them! — every day?

The first five days we were on vacation up in the mountains, I didn’t have good internet connection. Actually, I didn’t realize the hostel had free wifi – ha! and I was surprised at how the inability to use certain apps, especially Instagram, actually felt pretty good.

I love looking at the beautiful pictures of people’s lives that they post there. But lately I have been feeling pretty down because I have been comparing my life to theirs. Mine is not as picture perfect, and while I love posting pictures of my little family or things that I see around my neighborhood, I feel a surprising amount of pressure as I scroll through picture after picture, my thumb starting to feel sore from double-tapping. What’s the point?

Sometimes we get too involved in things that have no actual importance to our real lives. Being so connected all the time is a double-edged sword, because we aren’t truly present in the moment when we are staring at our phones.

If I really wanted to fast, I would give up my phone completely. Because I spend tons of time on WhatsApp chatting with friends and family. It’s my support system, as well as my way of making appointments and meet-ups and hangouts with my friends. It’s just how we communicate nowadays. But I feel that would be isolating in a way that I’m not ready to try yet, so this year I have limited it specifically to Instagram and Facebook, due to these weird depressing feelings they’ve made me feel lately. To give me some space from comparing my life to others’ and to instead look around and see how blessed and how fortunate I am to have what I have.

As with breaking any habit, it helps not just to abstain, but to also replace it with meaningful things. I would like to spend the next seven weeks focusing on my kids and my family. Taking the time to read actual books. Putting the phone aside as I play and connect. But also to write more in my poor, neglected blog here. (How good it feels typing on actual keys instead of tapping fingers on my phone!)

In addition, we have started reading from our friends’ book that was published a few years back. It’s a devotional book called Brot und Liebe: Wie man Gott nach Hause holt. To be honest, it feels a little bit strange doing it because we have never done anything like that together, and Tobi’s parents do it before and after every meal, which is kind of annoying. But if ever there were a time to be a little more religiously involved, it’s Lent. Because it’s a time to focus on things that truly matter.

The picture above is from Theo’s newest favorite activity – playing with my washi tape stash. I love this one. 

2016 recap

Boy, does time fly when you’re having fun. Here I was, all talking about skipping Thanksgiving and moving on to Christmas, and we’re already halfway through January.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have an idea of what we’ve been up to. For the rest of you, here goes nothing.

So…Christmas! We did end up skipping Thanksgiving, and I am thankful for that. (ha ha ha!) It was good not to have all that planning and cooking stress, although I will say that I did miss it a little. So I made a pumpkin pie (two, actually) and called it a day and happily brought down 5 boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic.

We spent the first 14 days here, and they were as busy as ever – a couple Christmas parties, a few trips to the Christmas markets (but fewer than in previous years), and activities as usual and before we knew it, we were flying to the States. We took a crazy route this time and the flights over went surprisingly well, considering it was our first long-distance flights with two kids and that our trip started with delayed flights. The way back would be much more complicated, and THAT is the understatement of the year, but perhaps best reserved for its own blog post, although it’s almost too much to write out and I think that in the long run, I would rather forget the details of how awful things went. Hah!

It was very exciting to see my family again. My nieces are now 5 and 2, and Theo was excited to see Grandma & Granddad again and play with all the new, fun toys at their house. My mom had decorated the entire house for Christmas, and it was just cozy and magical and no matter how long I am away (1.5 years this time), stepping back into the house I grew up in still feels like home. I know where every creak in the floor is, or what it feels like to walk out from my room to the kitchen. (The only thing that totally threw me for a loop for the entire two weeks we were there, though, is that they moved the trash can!)

A few days after our arrival, it was time to start Peter’s wedding festivities. Theo stayed home while the rest of us attended the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The next day, Theo made a very adorable ring bearer and, with joyful tears in my eyes, I got to watch my best friend get married. It was a lovely celebration and I am so thankful to have been there for it. Congratulations, Peter & Julia!

(Not the most flattering picture of my mom…trust me, she was very excited to have us here! haha)

 

Avi fell in love with his Grinch that my Gram gave him

Avi’s first thrift store shopping experience

Here are a few from Christmas Eve – and because I’d rather have it done than perfect, I just took pictures of Tobi’s computer screen with my phone. 😉

Then we had a lovely Christmas celebration with my family. Unfortunately, I felt nauseous all day long, and Avi barfed a little bit, too, but was otherwise normal. There were tons of presents and Theo really enjoyed opening all his new toys. It was a lovely day. We had breakfast in the morning, then opened stockings, and then opened the presents under the tree. The kids took naps, and when they had woken up, we drove over to my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas part 2.

On the way home, we drove through the Winter Lights Festival at Watkins Park. I had remembered going there as a kid and wanted to do it again, and it was free on Christmas Day. We got in there on the way home, right before they closed for the evening. It was a lot of fun, although an overtired Theo fell asleep in the car and missed the whole thing.

There wasn’t much time left after Christmas, as we were (supposed) to fly out on the 27th. We missed our flight and flew out on the 28th instead. Oy.

Anyway, we had a few days to wind down from our travels and try to get back onto some semblance of this time zone, and celebrated New Year’s Eve as usual with our church friends. We ate raclette, watched Dinner for One (as is the custom here), sang songs, and shot off fireworks at midnight and toasted 2017 with champagne. It was lovely. And Theo was so into the fireworks! He especially liked the crackers (Knallerbsen). Next year we will have to get him some of his own.

And that’s all for 2016!

Would it be so bad?

We might skip Thanksgiving dinner this year and just move on to Christmas.

I’ve always enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving dinner, but this year I have very little desire to do so. On the one hand, after 6 years of cooking it on our own, we’ve got the process down. It was considerably easier last year. But this year…I don’t know. I feel like I’m in a funk.

I might just make some pumpkin pie and call it a day. I thought about outsourcing recipes this year and having all the guests each bring one dish…but somehow, it still all feels like too much.

I’m not even quite as excited about Christmas this year as I have been in previous years. What’s with that? I am happy that we will see my family this year at Christmas — we are flying in on December 14th and will be back in Hamburg in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Maybe I’m somewhat dreading the flights with two kids to get there…I don’t know.

I keep hoping that once I get my tree up and a little more Christmas feeling, I will start to feel a little better and more excited about things. So, to that end…here are some pictures I took of Christmasy things I saw at Aldi yesterday.

This was the biggest can of beer I’ve ever seen! It was 0.75 liters!

And some little Räuchermänner – I’ve seen Santa ones and hunters before, but the pirate one is funny!

Is anybody else struggling to feel motivated these days? It’s the darkness and the cold weather, right?