Cry of My Heart

For the past month the cry of my heart has been to be able to stay in Germany for another couple of years.  So many times a day I cry out in prayer to God with just the thoughts that my heart is broken at the thought of moving away right now.  That I just want to stay.  Nothing lyrical or profound.  No extra words or explanations.  Just the deep desire that I don’t want to move away from my adopted home of Germany, my tiny little rural farming German village.

We might be moving back to the US in October.  There is a pretty strong possibility.  And it makes me cry to think about that.

I want to stay.  I don’t want to move.

I looked back this morning when I was thinking to our three years here in Germany.  We have felt like such foreigners and outsiders for so long.  The first year we lived here LOML and I frequently had conversations about how hard it is, and we questioned if it was worth it to move here.  We felt like we hit wall after wall after wall (social, community building, church, friends, language, government protocols, etc).  At some point we either became better at climbing the big walls in front of us at every corner or the walls became smaller and smaller.

We are still foreigners and outsiders — something I doubt will ever change even if we lived here the rest of our lives.  But now I can say we do actually fit in.

-It was comfortable to be with my German band at our concert on Sunday.  We had conversations in German.  There were 2 strangers that asked me questions — and I could answer them appropriately!  They missed me when I was gone this summer.  They care about me and the new baby.
-Our kids feel comfortable in this culture.  (They are a little awkward back in the US, actually.)  They effortlessly flip from English to German depending on who they are speaking to — and they instinctively know which one is correct.
-The other parents in the Kindergarten are willing to be our friends and show us great kindnesses.  I shared with a mother a week ago that I was having pain because of this pregnancy and that’s why I was walking so slowly to pick up the girls in the afternoon.  She gave the 3 of us a ride home.  And when she saw me walk up to school, as she was driving away, the next morning for drop-off, she called school and told the teacher to let me know she would pick me up at my house so I wouldn’t have to walk for that afternoon’s pickup.
-All summer long Big Ive would get teary-eyed and cry that she wanted to go back home to Germany.  At least once a day, nearly every day of the 2 months we spent in the US.  This is home to them.  They know nothing different than living in Germany, long airplane rides to see grandparents.  [[I understand they would most likely feel this way about where ever we might live as long as it was home.]]
-The girls have friends at school.  Friends who missed them when we were gone for such a long time in the US this summer.  The first day back at school a group of kids stood at the window yelling out, “Die Big Ive und die Little E! Die Big Ive und die Little E! (The Big Ive and the Little E!)”  They were so excited the girls were back at school.  I wish I could convey the excitement of those children through these simple words.  It just made my heart glow.
-People know who we are in the village.  I can’t walk to school, the little store, the butcher shop, the playground without waving or saying hello to someone I know.
-Our children have adopted grandparents here in our village.  The girls LOVE these people and they love our kids just as much.
-We have friends and have begun to grow a community.

It was a difficult and stressful summer dealing with the many changes in our lives (much beyond just moving back to the States).  It was so full of many different emotions.  I know that being pregnant during all of this has definitely intensified any reaction I would normally have.  I didn’t fully realize how much I like living here and want to live here until we were getting ready to move.

Until we hear otherwise we are planning to move.  Constant prayer, fingers crossed (or thumbs pressed, as the Germans say) we hear otherwise.  And sooner would be better than later.  But I’ll take whatever I can get if it means we can stay.

I trust God.  I trust His will and timing.  He’ll provide for us where we will be moving.  But, damn, is this a hard time for us.

I want to stay.  I don’t want to move.  Yet.  I’m not ready.

Will I ever be ready?

Sandbox morning fun

Sometimes you don’t have the camera when you have a near perfect morning. I guess that means we’re supposed to try to enjoy it even more since we won’t have the digital memories.

This morning was like that. The girls and I played in the sandbox in our backyard for an hour this morning. It was sunny and warm enough to not even need a light sweater. We pulled the leaves out, I raked the rain-trodden-down sand up so it was fluffy again.

We built a fish pond, complete with pretend water because my very wise 4-year old knows extra water in the sandbox messes up proper building. We built bucket castles. Some were near perfect. Others fell down before they got up. She also knows how to make doors and windows with her fingers in her bucket castles. I asked where she learned that and she replied, “Daddy teached me. Dad teached me how to make doors.” “Dad is a pretty smart guy, huh?” “Yeah, he is.”

Shoes were removed and sand was wiggled through little toes. Hands and feet were buried under cool wet sand.

Big Ive toppled over one time when she lost her balance and bumped her head on a cobble stone. But the spectacular somersault she managed to do in the toppling totally made up for it. Maybe I was a bad mother at the time because I was laughing so hard while she was crying. A half a minute later and she was laughing too. Proves once again laugher can be the best medicine. She does have a red spot on her forehead, which may turn into a bruise, but her bangs cover it well so most people won’t even know.

Playing in wet sand made us have to remove sandy clothes before entering the house and proceeding straight to the bath. Now we have 2 clean girls almost ready for lunch, naps, and a fellow 4-year old friend’s birthday party later this afternoon.

sweet simple memories of a regular day in the life of our adventure.

Party for Little E’s 3rd birthday

On Saturday we had a birthday party for Little E. This was the first birthday she has celebrated in the United States.  I thought it would be fun to have a cow and bird themed party for her since she loves cows and birds so much.

There is a take a toy to school day once a week at their Kindergarten and she brought at least one of her cow toys each week for a month.  And then she tried to take one of the cow toys from school home.  :)  Kid loves her cows.

We walk by some chickens on the way to school and every single time we have to stop at look at them.

Whenever she sees a bird flying in the sky or hopping on the ground she exclaims, “Der’sth a birdie!” (That translates to, “There’s a birdie!”  She still has a little bit of a lisp, which I think is pretty cute.)

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Cow skirt made by Grandma.

 

The party went really well.  We had a boat load of people over.  A lot of our family who lives here, and a lot of friends from our church here in AZ.  My dad grilled burgers for us to go along with chips and salsa, avocado & black bean dip, hummus, fruits and veggies.  There were only a tiny bit of leftovers and no one appeared to be hungry when they left so I count it a win!

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And I made over 6 dozen strawberry cupcakes from scratch.  I think they turned out really well for using 2 new recipes (the cake batter and the frosting).  I think we had about 12 left when the party ended.

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My sister filled about 100 water balloons for the kids to throw.  So much time was spent filling the balloons and it took the kids all of 3 minutes to throw and break them all.  A little bit later it started raining.  Just about every kid here was playing in it and completely soaked.  The rain was possibly better than my planned activity of water balloons!

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DSC05606Buckets of water attract children like bees to honey.  : )

DSC05608Post water balloons.  She doesn’t look terribly happy in this photo but she did have a great time with the water balloons.

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Opening the presents was pretty darn chaotic.  There were about 10 children helping Elsie and making her rush through them all.  Thankfully my sister was good at taking notes and wrote everything down on which presents came from whom.

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She wanted to sleep with this cow baby, but I said no because it moos.  I didn’t want to be awoken in the middle of the night from a mooing cow baby.2014-08-03_K_ipad_pics 796
You can see the excitement on her face in this photo.  I love it.

 On her actual birthday on Tuesday the 5th of August we had a slow day.  My mom made a batch of pancakes — maybe even her best since she used half-and-half instead of regular milk.  Little E was up before Big Ive and was able to eat all of the strawberries with her pancake.  And then she started on the tomatoes, finishing with raspberries.  I made sure to save at least a few raspberries for Big Ive.  She requested “frwench frwiesth and chickie bitesth” (french fries and chicken bites) for supper.  So I made some great baked chicken tenders, fries, and homemade mac-n-cheese.  It was a big hit from everyone who was over.  We ended the night with some frozen yogurt.  The girls loved being able to pick the toppings for their frozen yogurt.  All in all, a very fun birthday for a very special little 3-year old girl.

Quick Update

Sorry for the delay in posts the past 2 months.  There has been a lot and nothing happening at the same time.  Here’s a quick list of the highlights.

  1. I am 17 weeks pregnant today.  The baby is due in November.
  2. I developed a crazy bad sudden allergy to rapeseed during this pregnancy.  Rapeseed is grown abundantly in our region in Germany, unfortunately.  I thought I had a bad sinus infection for 3 weeks before I finally got an allergy test.  As the flowers disappeared on the fields my symptoms have been decreasing and I finally feel better.  Between the first trimester pregnancy exhaustion and the allergy I was literally sitting on the sofa for 3 weeks and did basically nothing.  Thank goodness LOML was working from home and was able to help so much.
  3. We threw a big birthday party for Big Ive a couple weeks after her 4th birthday.  We invited a bunch of her little German friends from the Kindergarten.  The puzzle themed party was a big success, even if it was a bit on the chaotic side with so many kids.  :)
  4. My mom came for a 4 week visit as a birthday surprise for me.  LOML worked it out and paid for her ticket over.  It’s been great having her here.
  5. LOML’s parents were also here for 2 weeks and we had a blast.
  6. We took a 5 day trip to Belgium with my mom and LOML’s parents and all 4 of us — Brussels, Oostende (stumbled upon a sail boat festival!), Brugges (went to an organ concert in the Our Lady cathedral for the dedication of their brand new organ), and just about the best zoo I’ve been in in the world called Paira Daiza.  Fantastic little road trip.
  7. The Schwimmbad opened in our village and we’ve been swimming 2 times in a week.  The girls seem to be ok with the frigid water temperature.  As someone who grew up in the desert, I don’t like to swim until the water is about 80F.  The Germans think that is far too warm.
  8. The girls and I will be visiting the States for 2 months starting tomorrow.  My brother is getting married and we’ll be spending a week with LOML’s family and lots of other things planned.  It’s a little too long to be gone from home, but it’ll be good to have enough time to spend with family and friends.  LOML will be there for part of the time, but he has to return for work for some of the 2 months we’ll be gone.
  9. LOML and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary the beginning of June.  It’s crazy to think we’ve been married 9 years.
  10. I celebrated my 30th birthday.  We had a great day of German breakfast at the bakery, time playing in a local castle ruin, and then LOML surprised me with my German band who played a little birthday serenade in the town square.  It was the best birthday and one I will remember forever.

Hopefully now that I’m feeling better I can get back to more regular posts with photos.

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4 years of Big Ive

Big Ive turns 4 on April 10.  It is always hard to imagine she has been with us for so short and so long at the same time.  When these milestones come up I always think about how it feels like we never had a time without her.  I know that’s not true, of course.  But sometimes memories play tricks on you that way.  Sometimes, I think, when we love people so much we forget a little bit that life existed before without them.

I think back and remember her birth.   Remember that we were so lucky and blessed to even have had this baby.  Remember that she came out a whopping 9lb 6oz, 21.5in at 41weeks 3days.  Remember the crazy events that lead up to a scheduled c-section birth (she flipped breach at nearly 9.5lbs).  Remember the worry when she didn’t cry right away, when they finally got her to it sounded like an engine starting up with small whimpers consistently growing to bigger and bigger until the relief of a great cry.  Remember the shock of having a redhead (we love it, we just weren’t really expecting it).

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I think back and remember her first year or so of life.  The head-shaping helmet she wore for 3 months because of mild plageocephaly.  Remember feeling guilty for not being able to enjoy her first 1.5 years so much because of the unplanned pregnancy of Little E.  Remember the worry when the pediatrician said she didn’t have enough verbal words, and at the same time remember feeling defensive and maybe a little smug that she had so many signs.  Remember how little she felt up until the day Little E was born.  And then how completely huge she instantly became, when I wasn’t expecting it, when I didn’t know it would happen, after Little E was born.  I remember how much this tiny toddler/big baby loved her baby sister, how much joy she had.  Remember thinking that Big Ive should somehow look much bigger next to a newborn Little E.  Remember how she used to click her tongue to make a kissing sound when she gave you a kiss (and once every very little while still does).

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I put her name in the skinny part on her left temple, but blurred it for my semi-anonymous blog.

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One or 2 days before Little E was born.  She climbed up and fell asleep like that.

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First time meeting Little E at the hospital the day she was born.

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Signing ‘juice’ Big Ive style.  There were a few months where she added a few new signs a week, thanks to my little sister who is majoring in Sign Language Interpretation at college.

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Double binkies in Switzerland Christmas day 2011.

I think back and try to remember the third year of her life.   And I don’t remember so much.  Because I was a sleep deprived mother of 2 very young children (one a baby who didn’t sleep through the night until after 1 year of age and thought no solid foods were good until 8 months of age…).  But, that’s ok.  Because I know we had a good year.  I remember traveling.  Remember Big Ive sleeping in every place we traveled (Paris subway? check.  Florence city streets? check.  Beaches of Croatia?  check. …).  Remember starting to attend the Kindergarten in our village, attending Krabbelgruppe, so many walks around the village, times on the playground, picking flowers out in nature.  Remember right at her 2nd birthday she decided she would really start to talk.  And then 4 months later we threw her into the German-speaking Kindergarten and watched as her English language progress suddenly stopped for a few months.  Just to pick right back up, but this time concurrently learning German.  Remember when she started to remember things (like my parents house, and how it takes 2 airplanes to get there).  Remember when she couldn’t hardly ride walk her Laufrad (balance bike).

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My stacker of blocks kid.  She has always been good at stacking blocks and working puzzles.

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Easter morning 2012.  My favorite part is her still-swollen-with-sleep eyes after just waking.

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LOML giving her the tour of the cathedral in Metz, France.

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Sass and a map at a vineyard in France, spring 2012.

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How many dandelions can a little girl pick? Summer 2012, along the wooded path around our village.  The sap in those dandelions stained that flower dress that day.  I still have the dress.

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Totally rockin’ it on the first day of real Kindergarten, August 2012.

I think back and remember her 4th year of life, the one she just completed, now starting on her 5th year. Remember that she spoke very little German at the beginning of the year, only to have it suddenly explode and she became a near-fluent 3 year old German speaker.  Remember the times my heart swelled when she, out of the blue, says that God loves her and lives in her heart. Remember when she suddenly could out-run me on her Laufrad.  Remember all the funny things her brain puts together and spills out her lips.  Remember the wonderful feeling of a content child feeling safe and falling asleep in mom’s arms.  Remember bringing her to my German classes and she responded to the teacher, talking about her bike.  Remember when she ran up to our Landlord and hugged his legs outside of the Kindergarten one afternoon at pickup (and remember the look of shock and joy on his face).  Remember her asking for her babysitters to come back to her house soon.  Remember the look of her face when she tells you it takes 2 airplanes to get to Gampers’ house.  Remember the heart-wrenching sadness she felt when LOML was apart from us and she told me she missed her daddy.  Remember how much better and how willing she is of a helper with chores and me around the house.  Remember how caring she is when I had a sore back, or was sick.  Remember her ‘softing’ my hurts away.  Remember her addiction to her pacifiers.

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After opening her new birthday present of puzzles, April 10, 2013.

DSC03118Trying out the Laufrad from Uncle Fred, Spring 2013.

DSC03307Drumming on toy kitchen pots and pans.

DSC03561Walking to the beach in Croatia, July 2013.

DSC03934Castle tour July 2013.  Note the dinosaur in her hand and the over-thrilled expression.

DSC03960She is often finding a place to sit like this to just observe the world.

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Running in the fountain, when Uncle Robot and Tia were in Germany.

DSC04621At the playground near my parent’s house.

DSC04722One of my favorite photos of both girls together — perfect capture of their personalities.

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I like the expression she has in this photo New Year’s Day 2014.

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I look forward to the future.  I made the commitment to live in the today and not be sad about what is in the past, and I’ll continue to do that with you, looking forward to the many years to come of our lives together, watching you grow.  You and me, we’ll keep living life in our little family, on our crazy adventure.  I love you, Big Ive.  You’ll always be my Big Ive-baby.

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Rambling Thoughts for the Day

  • I made a great post for Big Ive’s 4th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  So, in my brain, I have this epic post waiting to go out on her birthday on the 10th, and can’t write any others until it is published.  Not like we’ve done anything spectacular the past few weeks that the general public, friends, and family really care about, though.  :)  That’s why there’s been a little bit of silence from HausMiller.
  • Tonight I made homemade mac-n-cheese and used a French shredded cheese mix, along with some Velveeta.  It turned out surprisingly incredibly delicious.  Perfect combination of French cheeses and American processed cheese stuff.  Normally I don’t use Velveeta (I don’t think I can readily buy it here in Germany), but a friend gave us a block as they were moving away.  And I can’t let perfectly good food product go to waste, so I’ve been trying to incorporate that into our meals the past few weeks.  Totally doesn’t mesh with the healthy eating we’ve been trying to do for the past month or so.
  • Big Ive was chatting with a friend at Kindergarten this afternoon at pickup.  She said a whole sentence in German, but didn’t know 2 words, so she substituted the English words.  The German kid gave her a slight funny look but kept going with the conversation.
  • Big Ive managed to misplace all of her pacifiers.  [[I know, I know, she's nearly 4 years old and still uses pacifiers.  It's really not that big of a thing here in Europe.  It is not uncommon to see kids with them until age 4 or 5.  The plan is to get rid of them on her 4th birthday.  We'll see if that really happens...]]  And she came up with this idea that somehow someone came into our house and took all of her pacifiers.  That was the reason we couldn’t find any when we had 4 the day before.  And then she told one of her friends this at school today.  Crazy kid.  It’s awesome to see her brain working on these things.
  • I witnessed an I-have-more-Oma’s-than-you fight between three or four 2-4 year old’s at the Kindergarten this morning.  One kid’s Grandma (Oma) dropped her off.  Then another kid said, “I have 3 Omas.”  This was countered by Big Ive saying, “I have 2 Oma’s and 2 Grandma-grandmas.”  The mother of one kid came and clarified she had 2 Omas and 1 Urgroßmutter (Uroma…great grandmother).  Then Big Ive said the names of her grandmas, which really confused the mother.  She had no idea what Big Ive was saying, as one of the names is a nickname, although Big Ive did say it all correctly in German.
  • All of our neighbors and acquaintances here in our village are convinced I speak great German.  I think my German is not so good — I feel like I can barely function when I have to.  I had to translate for a friend with their neighbors in February.  As I was walking home from Kindergarten drop off one morning, a person in our village came out their front door when they saw me.  They verified that I knew German.  I said yes.  Then she asked a couple of questions, which I tried my best to answer.  When I was going to leave I said something incorrectly 3 different ways, which she finally laughed at and then told me the correct way to say it in German.
  • I always feel like I’m a little slow when having a conversation in German.  The German will say something.  And when they’re at a point where I’m supposed to respond, I take just a bit too long translating back what they were saying, formulating a response and translating that into German, they get this look on their face.  If they know English they have then started to say what they said by this point.
  • A mother at Kindergarten pickup asked if Big Ive will be going to the actual Kindergarten class in the fall.  I didn’t quite understand what she was saying.  I mean, I understood the words, but wondered if I somehow didn’t know about different school options here in Germany that I suddenly needed to become aware of.  Anyway, after a couple back and forths, it came to be that she thought Big Ive was 5 and of Kindergarten class age.  She is only turning 4 on the 10th, so she has another year of pre-school here.  Then the mother commented that she was a tall girl, also.  I smiled and said something along the lines of, have you met my husband?  She smiled back.
  • We are planning a birthday party for Big Ive, later in April.  This will be the first time we’ve had a kid-party.  Ever.  And I think we’ve only ever been to 1 other kid party.  I’m concerned about doing it ‘right’.  How American do I make it?  How thoughtful to the Germans do I make it?  Will any German kids even show up?  What if ALL of the kids we invite show up out of sheer curiosity of ‘the Americans’?
  • I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve watched the movie Frozen in the past week.  A friend let us borrow her copy.  The German language DVD comes out in about a week, which I am planning to buy for the girls. [[EDIT 07.04.2014: I ordered it on amazon.de so it should be here soon.]]
  • LOML and I have decided that if the girls are going to watch TV it should be German language TV shows.  That way we can call it education and not feel so bad about the screen time.  Ha!  Our landlord is working on getting us German TV instead of the military cable we’ve had (which stopped working a few months ago and we’ve yet to troubleshoot why.  No big loss, we didn’t watch it much more than kid shows anyway.).
  • LOML and I joined the gym in a German village about 5 miles from our house.  We’re probably the only Americans with a membership.  The gym is pretty cool.  They have a full sauna (with 3 or 4 different sauna rooms) and everything.
  • LOML bought me a FitBit.  Did you know they can help track your sleeping, too?  Not sure of the accuracy, but it sure is interesting to see it every morning on the computer.
  • Lastly, I am not a fan of the Daylight Saving Time change that happened here in Germany on Sunday.  From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t save any energy and actually causes more accidents the weeks after the change.  Where’s the world petition to end this nonsense?
  • 07.04.2014   We got the girls a sandbox for the backyard and our Landlord let us put it under a big tree by the swing set.  Big Ive was making sand castles from her star-shaped bucket today and she told me 2 were for Queen Elsa, 2 were for Princess Anna and the big cobble stone she put in there was the mountain that Christophe had to climb.

Christmas Letter 2013

Note:  I printed a similar, but shorter letter for the handful of paper Christmas cards I sent out this year.  I didn’t want to print and send you all 5 pages of Things HausMiller Has Done In 2013.  If you’ve gotten one of those, please do also read this.  More fun details and info.  :)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, and welcome to the year 2014!

Like usual, I did not get anything written or sent out before Christmas last year.  Oh, well.  It’s always kind of fun to get the late holiday or birthday cards in the mail because it makes the holiday seem that much longer.  It always brings a smile to my face.

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(a year later and Little E has now outgrown the clothes Big Ive is wearing in this photo)

2013 was a year of travel for the Miller family.

Christmas 2012 and January 2013 were spent in the United States visiting our family and friends and loved ones.  Christmas 2012 was super fun for us in Iowa with LOML’s family.  7 kids age 6 and under made for quite a crazy full house.

The girls and I spent the rest of January and a week of February in Arizona at my parent’s house.  LOML had to go back to work in Germany a week after Christmas.  We were sad to not have him with us to enjoy the beautiful sunshine.  I really did feel bad that he endured nearly the darkest winter in 43 years back in Germany without us (it was almost the darkest winter ever on record!!!).

In March we visited Munich.  LOML had some work function, I think, so we tagged along.  We got to see the main square and took a day trip to the Neuschwanstein castle.  This is the one Disney used as inspiration to make their castle.  This castle has a theme of swans, as the king of that area really liked them.  Little E decided they were all chickens, and during our very full guided tour she would yell out, “Chicken!”, every time we saw one.  No explaining on our part could convince her they were actually swans.  Needless to say, we hung at the back of the group and tried to keep her quiet.  Thankfully, most of the other patrons thought it was funny and we heard them laughing with us.

April had us in the Netherlands to see blooming bulb flowers at the Keukenhof gardens.  It was a cold winter and spring and there weren’t many flowers in bloom when we went.  We did enjoy ourselves and the girls had a blast on the playground equipment and with the petting zoo.

In May LOML sent me to Paris for a day as a birthday present.  A friend of mine came with for a bread baking class.  I got to make real French baguettes, brioche, and another bread I can’t remember the name of but was beyond delicious.

In June my dad and older brother, who the girls call Uncle Baron, visited us.

We drove to Croatia in July (through Germany, Austria and Slovenia) with my dad and brother.  LOML wasn’t able to join us again because of work.  That dang work is always getting in the way of a proper social life and a good holiday. We visited the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which I can’t recommend enough for someone thinking about a fantastic European vacation.  And then we spent a few days on the coast near Zadar.  This was the 3rd time I had been to Croatia, and the girls’ 2nd.  We talk about going again this summer, we love it so much.

Also in July, my youngest brother, who the girls call Uncle Robot, and his girlfriend, Tia, visited us.  We went on another Rhein River cruise, toured castle ruins nearby our house, and had a great German breakfast at a bakery.

In August Little E turned 2 and LOML’s parents came to visit for a couple of weeks.  We love having them visit.  LOML was busy with work again so we didn’t get to take a little vacation with them this year, unfortunately.  I also started my 5th German language class so I wasn’t able to take time off of that.  Happy to report that I can understand a good amount of German, but that I have difficulties formulating responses when asked questions or if I’m participating in a group conversation.  Coming along, but not as good as I would like.

September was little festivals in nearby villages.   Random day trips to France, 45 minutes by car.  At this point, I can’t remember a specific festival we went to, but there are so many, well within 1 hour’s drive from our house.

In October, LOML and I went to Stuttgart for the Cannstatter Wasen festival (Stuttgart’s Oktoberfest) with my German band for a fun day.  LOML wore his Lederhosen and I had on my Dirndl.  It was great.  We took a train over at 8am.  My wonderful band president was ready with the first ‘Good Morning’ drink of champagne on the very first train.  The other 2 trains followed with snacks and more drinks to set the stage for a very fun day with very fun people.

Mid-October we flew back to Arizona.  We then spent a week in Iowa with LOML’s sisters and their families.  It’s amazing what 10 months time does to those 6 little kids that were such a handful at Christmas.  The weather was better in October so lots of outside play was available.  Not to mention everyone was almost a year old and that much more able to play without direct parental involvement.  LOML was only able to stay in the States for 2.5 weeks, so the girls and I got to enjoy a few more wonderful weeks of warm sunshine in AZ before we headed home the week before Thanksgiving.  It was like a second summer for us.  A much-needed second summer for me.  The cold, dark, rainy, way-too-long winter was too much for this desert-kid.

In November (while we were still in the States) I flew up to Minnesota to visit my other Grandma and some aunts, uncles and cousins for 4 days while LOML’s parents and my parents graciously watch the girls.  My grandmother turned 89 in December.  There was no way I was going to have made a trip to the US and not go see my other grandma.  I wish I could have brought the girls with, but it was equally nice to have 3.5 days alone.  I didn’t realize air travel could be so stress free until I didn’t have my kids with me.

[[Side note:  I added up the number of airplanes my children have been on.  Big Ive has been on 29 and Little E 25, if I counted correctly.  Big Ive took one trip with me to Minnesota when she was 3 months old.  That's where she gets 4 more airplanes than Little E.  I can't believe we've been on that many airplanes in just under 4 years.  And I can't help but notice how blessed we are to be able to live in Europe and visit family 6000mi (9000km) away almost twice a year.  God is good.]]

And Christmas 2013 was spent quietly in our house in Germany.  LOML and I didn’t realize how much our big crazy families mean to us on major holidays and we missed them all dearly.  And I didn’t realize how much traditions mean to LOML.  He really REALLY wanted me to make a whole turkey or ham for Christmas.  I told him I wouldn’t make a turkey because I don’t eat it, and we can’t get a good American-style ham in Germany.  I tried to compromise by roasting a whole chicken and he was finally ok with it after he took the first bite.  Having certain traditional foods for our family holiday get-togethers was never quite so important for my family.  It was more important to have everyone get together.  But passed the food traditions talk, LOML and I mostly noticed that it didn’t really feel like Christmas last year.  There was no hype of getting together with one of our crazy extended families, no big preparations for Christmas Eve services in our church, and a very big lack of family on Christmas day.  All my life my family would get together and we’d number no less than 20 for every single major holiday.  That’s a hard thing to get used to.  It made us a little sad to know this was the first Christmas the girls would probably understand and maybe remember, and they have no memories of giant family Christmases.  I hope we can give that to them in future years.

Lest you think our life is all happy travels to endless destinations with nary a care in the world, we had our share of illnesses, work challenges, uncertainty, child tantrums, sadness, worry, and plenty of instances to seek forgiveness.  We tend to recap the good things when we write these letters (or the major bad things), but that doesn’t necessarily paint a realistic picture of what really happened day in and day out during the year.  We know we are incredibly blessed to be able to live in Europe for a time, to give our children a chance to learn a second language fully submerged in the culture, being able to travel to places with our children we could have only maybe dreamed about taking them ‘some day’.  Daily life is pretty much the same here as in the US.  We have the same issues with our kids, house, car, what we are going to cook for supper, did you remember to do thisandthat, crap–not another unexpected German bill.  It’s great to live here, but we struggle with sadness about having left family and friends back in the US.  We love you all so much and miss you more than this simple letter can convey.

Love from Haus Miller Adventure

DSC05295retouchJanuary 2014 :: Big Ive 3.75 years, Little E 1.5 years

If you need our contact information (phone numbers, addresses, Skype names, etc.) please email hausmilleradventure [at] gmail [dot] com. Please fill in the correct symbols for the words in brackets.

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more puddle jumping photos

Here are a few more photos of a fun afternoon jumping in puddles at the end of December.

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Something to do on a cold rainy early Feburary afternoon

Something, that I’m sure the other German parents thought I was crazy for — letting my girls stomp in puddles and walk in the rain for 20 minutes in 41F weather. I am positive the other parents thought I was off my rocker when they picked up their children and saw me encouraging mine to stomp in puddles.  Hey, at least I brought their rainboots along.  And they had a fleece sweater under their winter coats, and hats on so they were in no way cold out there.  And when we got home we had Kinderchinos (luke-warm not-so-chocolaty chocolate milk) to really warm up.

And, if you can’t tell by the photos, the girls L-O-V-E-D it.  I got a couple of good mom points yesterday afternoon for this one.  : )

When I dropped them off at Kindergarten in the morning I told them I would walk to pick them up and they could use their new colorful umbrellas they got for Christmas.  But, when the time came to pick them up I couldn’t find my umbrella and didn’t want to walk the .75mi round trip with only my rain jacket.  I often have to carry one or the other kid for a period on this walk home (we walk most days) and wasn’t about to do that with the rain, their bags, our umbrellas, it being wet.  No thank you.  So, I drove to pick them up and they were elated to see their umbrellas and jump in the rain.

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DSC01686She was upset when I took the umbrella from her as it was being pulled away by the wind.
It wasn’t like I was trying to keep it away from her, silly girl.
I gave it right back and all was well with the world.

Ireland viking horn hat courtesy of dad.

DSC01685Let’s scoop the water from the puddle with the umbrella!!!

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DSC01676This was her favorite puddle.
It was maybe a few centimeters deep and perfect for splashing with little feet in pink Hello Kitty boots.

DSC01677My sweet girls.

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DSC01673Can anyone explain her recent fascination with pulling her hat down over her eyes and attempting to walk?  She does this nearly every day when we walk to school.  I don’t get it.

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DSC01679“Why, yes, I think I will close up my umbrella while it is still clearly raining.  That is a good though, Self.”

DSC01680Perfect puddle jumping.

DSC01675Most of the time the girls ran around with their umbrellas everywhere except over their heads.  Oh, to be 2 and 3 years old and not have a care in the world but to find the best puddles to stomp in.

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2013 year in review [part 3 of 3]

This is the third — and last — in a series of 3 posts about our 2013 year.

September

We went to a fall festival in a nearby village.  This was the best photo the two rugrats would let me get of them by the big pumpkins.  They were buggers that day, not wanting to listen worth a darn.  The pumpkin soup was really good, though.DSC04462

Little E wanted to go play on the piles of hay bales like Big Ive, but she wouldn’t give me her new stuffed animal so it wouldn’t get dirty.  The softness of the new toy won over playing on bales of hay. Big Ive liked climbing on the bales, but there were too many big kids jumping and running for her to feel comfortable enough to make the big jumps.
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October

LOML and I enjoyed a day trip to Stuttgart for the Cannstatter Wasen, which is Stuttgart’s Oktoberfest.  We went with members of my German band.  It was a whole day trip planned out to the minute, I’m sure.  We all wore lederhosen or dirndls and took the train over.  The first of our 3 trains one of the band members opened up the champagne for a good start to the morning drink.  The rest of the ride and day continued like that.  It was great.

The middle of October we made a trip back to the US and saw lots and lots of family and friends.  We were in AZ for a week and then went to IA to visit LOML’s sisters and their families for a week.  This past fall was so much nicer with 7 kids under 7, than last Christmas when it was 7 under 6.  10 months time makes a big difference in children’s development.  Not to mention the warmer weather made it easy for us to be outside a lot of the time.

Walking through the corn.  I love how it looks almost golden in this photo.
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Auntie tried to make farmers out of the bigger cousins with straw in their mouths.

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Back in AZ the girls got to spend time at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and neighborhood and meet some relatives for the first time.  This photo below depicts my girls’ personalities well.  Little E is content to play in the water quietly and Big Ive is running and jumping all over the place.  Little E sat fascinated with the fountain for as long as Big Ive ran around this courtyard.
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Dinner with grandma and grandpa and some family and friends.

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November

During our US trip, I went to Minnesota for a long weekend to visit more of my family.  LOML’s parents and my parents were generous enough to watch the girls for me while I traveled alone for 4 days.  I never knew getting through airport security and waiting for your airplane could be so peaceful.  :)  What a treat to not have to worry and take care of my little ones for a couple of days, and to enjoy time with family I don’t see often.  I wish I could have brought the girls with so they could have time with family, too, but it didn’t happen this time.

Minnesota fish fry while it is snowing!  Many thanks to my favorite cousin for cooking it for us.
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The girls and I spent some more time at LOML’s parent’s house.  One day we made and frosted cookies.

I think those are halloween sprinkles that she is very carefully placing on her cookie. 
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Sometimes it’s more fun to play with toy magnifying glasses with Grandpa, though.DSC04908

  Or snuggle with the puppy.  Kid would absolutely love it if we got a dog.DSC04935

They did this all by themselves, if you can believe it.DSC04942

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The day before we flew back to Germany we spent some time at my grandparent’s house.  Little E had a great time playing with her Grandpa-grandpa and Grandma-grandma’s cat.

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We also tried to see some of my other family members, some of whom had never met Little E because we moved to Germany when she was just 4 months old.  And I’m so happy we were able to see a number of them.  I felt a big need to make this visit more about seeing and being with family where possible than to hang out and have a good time with my friends (although we did a lot of that, too).  When my uncle unexpectedly passed away a year and a half ago, and another family member was in a near-fatal accident a year ago, it has solidified that we need to spend time with those we love and care about.  You honestly never know when the last day you will see someone will be.  I’m so very glad I have these memories (and photographic evidence of them, too) and can share it with the girls as they continue to grow and really remember things.

Thus concludes our year 2013.  As blogs usually go, these are the highlights of mostly fun and good things that happened.  We sure have our share of downs and valleys throughout the year, too.  Plenty of times when our children are behaving much less than stellar, days when we’re in a funk, days when we need to seek forgiveness from our loved ones that we’ve hurt, days full of illness.  Basically, it is a regular year had by regular human beings.  We love living in Germany, but it is incredibly hard to be away from family and friends.  I’m so glad the human mind tends to blurr the bad days and remember more of the good.  :)

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If you missed them, check out [part 1 of 3] and [part 2 of 3].

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