Last week marked our second anniversary in Germany. If our first year over here was a year of exploration and excitement, our second could be said to be that of settling. More weekends than not we settled into the couch and stayed home, had bbq’s with friends, or took Brock to a local indoor playground, but I think that is an okay thing to do. This year was the year for our family to relax and enjoy each other.
Fil and I sat down recently and counted up all his TDY (missions away from home) and my two trips home and realized that we spent nearly half of the year apart. Taking that into account, I think I should stop saying that this year was a slow traveling year for us. We may not have been traveling together, but clearly we were racking up frequent flyer miles and sleeping away from home quite a bit. The fact that with all that time apart we still added 17 postcards to the wall (our current total is now 42) is actually pretty impressive.
Year one: explore like crazy. Year two: work hard and become more local. Year three: up for debate. Hopefully what is to be our final year in Germany meets a balance. I am hoping that we get more family time together and knock a few more destinations off of the bucket list. The stakes for 2017 are set high!
So what were the high points for 2016? I think we would agree that the top trip, and only big trip for us as a family, was visiting Malta in July for Fil’s birthday. This was one of the trips we will forever remember. Just like Croatia in our first year, Malta was a location for us that simply did not exist until we landed in Europe. As ordinary Americans I don’t think it would have ever been possible or even an idea for us to visit this beautiful island country, and we are so glad we did.
But more than that, a major high point for us was watching Brock enjoy the world. Making giant bubbles at Manderscheid, pointing out the elephants at the Zoo, and more regularly having the time of his life at the indoor jungle gyms near us. Our little guy has no fear and a love for interacting with the world. It is more enjoyable for us now to plan a trip to an aquarium, children’s museum, or cool playground than it is to visit castles, natural features and historic districts. Case and point, we tossed around the idea of visiting Brussels this month before Christmas and the top thing we wanted to do was visit the train museum.
So what have we been up to lately? Well, Brock is now attending our village kindergarten for 2.5 hours every morning, and after an adjustment period I can honestly say he love it! I am glad he is enjoying it because I sure am enjoying the time alone. It is truly incredible how pleasing it can be to go to the store without a 2 year old, as sweet as he is. For now my 2.5 hours have been helpful with catching up on some things I have let slide, but soon I will be back on track and can take the time to expand my mind and practice my crafts.
Brock also has finally figured out the joy of opening presents and we CANNOT wait to see him in action on Christmas morning. Already he has opened the presents that family has mailed to him, and for the first time he is really into it. Digging around for the best box to open first, shredding the paper, throwing it in every direction, and gasping “oh wow!” as he sees his new toy. I think he will be mightily pleased with what Santa brings him this year, and I know for a fact he will love my homemade gift. Spoiler alert, it is a felt playhouse. I had to test putting together the pvc frame a few times and Brock has been completely in love with just the frame, so when he sees his house for the first time… I just can’t wait. The joy of a toddler is the best.
And what is in store for 2017? Hopefully fewer TDY missions! At this point the only thing on the calendar is my birthday cruise from Marseilles, France, to Portofino, Rome, Palermo and Cagliari, Italy, Palma de Mallorca and Valencia, Spain. A big hope for me, not so much for Fil, is to take Brock to Disneyland Paris. I cannot think of anywhere more magical to visit. We both would like to make it to the UK still, so hopefully we can make that work out as well. Another big milestone for 2017 that I am very proud of is that we will be 100% debt free. The last of my student loans is set to be paid off in this upcoming year, and when that happens we will have zero debt to our names until we take out a mortgage :).
P.S. we took these photos in early October, right after Brock and I got back from NJ, and right before Fil left for 3 weeks in Norway. This is the farm field right behind our fence and Brock was thrilled to watch the farmers drive their tractors cutting the hay 🙂