Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I write this note with a very heavy heart. If I had written this letter a week ago, I would have started with a totally different tone. My 2010 was fabulous. One of my favorite years ever. And ultimately, this letter is to be a review of twenty-ten but at this moment, I can barely get past the thought that is on the forefront of my mind. As I sit here trying to reminisce over how great my last year was, my dear friends have to say good-bye to their baby girl. People allover the world are praying for the family of this blue-eyed beauty. China, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina, Japan, and of course, the US, are filled with people approaching His throne on behalf of Brynnley’s family.
How does one transition from such a heavy heart into remembering the joys of a past year? How do I write about how great a time I had, knowing that Kjersten is in such pain? I have no idea.
So, as awkward as this is, I’m going to review my year and share the joys of 2010 with you… awkward definitely describes it and I sort of just want to say, “Sorry, Kjersten, for even writing this, while you are in such severe pain. Honestly, you and your family are more on my heart and mind than this update.”
January – We welcomed this year at the hotel in Ramstein, as friends who were traveling through Europe on Space-A were also there, with the flu. I felt so bad for my friend who had to fly overseas while feeling horrible. On the 1st we went from Ramstein to Stuttgart to visit with our friends, the Baileys. Quick Memories: driving in that red piece of junk BMW that reminds us of why we buy American; giving myself insulin shots 6 times a day and checking my sugars even more often than that; the boys all sledding down the Bailey’s fun hill; seeing the Black Forest and tasting real, Black Forest cake… yuck.
February – We celebrated Carson’s 7th birthday. We didn’t know a lot of people here just yet, so we met the Bailey’s again for celebrations at an indoor jump house. How blessed we are that they moved here 6 months before us and so we started off our time in Germany with at least one set of friends! It was about this time, as well, that we started going to WAAF Contemporary Service. A family invited us to eat lunch with them at the Food Court after service one Sunday. Since then, we haven’t missed many Sunday lunches as the PX, as it is a time we get to sit and chat for an hour or so. This was the beginning of us making such great friends here in Weisbaden. Quick Memories: craving cake yet not being allowed much due to gestational diabetes; watching Carson crawl on that huge bubble in the middle of the jump house.
March – We welcomed Parker into this world, having our first kid on foreign soil… our first kid not born at Gaston memorial with Sage being the delivering midwife. We were so glad Nana and Papa made it to Germany in time for Parker’s arrival, but really wished Grammy and Anna could have been here as well. They were a part of the other boys’ fantastic entrances when we lived close enough. We also celebrated Bailey’s 6th birthday at an indoor play place. The ages of our boys on that day were 8, 7, 6, and 5 days old. Quick Memories: my first Dr. Pepper after having Parker; showing my parents around Germany (okay, they saw much of it while I was in the hospital or at home resting, so I didn’t do much “showing” them around…)
April – We celebrated Matt’s 33rd birthday. We went to Mexico Lindo, the closest thing to the kind of Mexican food we’re used to, which, I’m told, is not “real” Mexican food. We also had our family pictures taken by a fabulous photographer. I loved our shoot and look forward to having another one around Parker’s first birthday. Quick Memories: The first day my parents left, Matt was back at work and I was alone with all 4. I took a treat to my friend, Jessica, who had just had her son, Connor. Then I took all of my boys on our first outing with no other adults to the Neroberg train. I felt accomplished.
May – We celebrated Hayden’s 9th birthday with a cook-out in our neighborhood. Finally, we knew enough people to have a party! We also enjoyed a trip to Edelweiss, in Garmisch, Germany. While there we noticed an ad for a used Durango… THAT COULD SEAT 6 PEOPLE!!! A month later we owned that Durango and had happily said good-bye to the BMW! Quick Memories: Trying to tour the monastery in Bavaria in the rain. The boys were wearing shoes with well-worn soles, and their feet got wet very quickly. No tour. Grumpy kids.
June – Our older three boys were baptized and Matt was so happy to be able to baptize them. Each of them had previously made individual decisions to accept Christ but it wasn’t until this moment that they were ready to be baptized. What a beautiful thing to watch! Parker slept right through it. Quick Memories: World Cup Games; Picking strawberries in the field across from the Hainerberg neighborhood. Made some great milkshakes and homemade yogurt.
July – Who said it doesn’t get hot in Germany!?!? They were crazy and, as Matt said, should be beaten swiftly. I don’t have many pleasant things to say about July or August, as I just remember being miserably hot. We had fans going, the windows working to our advantage (open/closed/blinds shut blocking light… depending on what time of day it was). The only saving grace was the lake, which we found one week before the heat ended, so we only got to go twice. We’ll get a pass next summer. Quick Memories: feeling grumpy all the time; feeding Parker his first bit of oatmeal cereal; finding the Rhine River “beach” at a local restaurant… made me feel like I was at the beach even if I was just putting my feet in a river; tasting Spundekäs for the first time… Oh.my.word…
August – I have enmity in my heart for July and August. Though I think that by the latter half of August we were back into bearable temperatures, I just don’t remember liking those two months very much. Quick Memories: Hayden starting 4th grade, the grade I used to teach! Carson starting 2nd grade, and Bailey starting 1st. Time is flying!
September – We had to say good-bye to some sweet friends asthey moved across the pond back to the land of Chick-fil-a and really low speed limits. We spent much of September getting into a good routine with school, figuring out how to do this with an infant in the house. I am thankful Parker’s such a good sleeper! Quick Memories: Receiving two Flat Stanleys… well, one Flat Cierra and one Flat Cole; Carson getting stung by a bee near the eye; having a real scientist in a real lab coat come and lead a science experiment. (Thanks, Tara!); Carson wearing his Army BDU Chaplain hat everywhere, until he lost it.
October – WE got to visit the land of Chick-fil-a and really low speed limits! We took a Space-A flight and spent just over 2 weeks visiting family, celebrating as Matt’s brother married a beautiful bride, Erin. Quick Memories: bringing home two containers of Chick-fil-a sauce to enjoy with my chicken over the next few months; riding on a C-17 over the ocean; introducing Parker to Grammy and our NC family/friends.
November – My birthday! I’ve always enjoyed my birthday. I remember sleep-overs, horseback riding, family parties and friend parties. Up until this year my 18th was my best ever. My parents had worked out a surprise party for me and, let me tell ya, I was surprised! That was the last time I saw Mike, Matt’s dad, before he passed away a week later. The only picture of me taken with him was taken that night. It is a night that I will never forget, as Matt’s dad kissed me on the cheek before he and the family drove off. I later remember thinking that it was as if he were welcoming me into the family. This year, Matt was in the States on my actual birthday but Jessica took care of me that night. She had a whole fun night planned and we went to dinner and then back to my house where the boys had decorated a cake. We danced, laughed, talked, and had a blast, and I almost didn’t notice Matt was missing. Almost. The day he got back from the States he was supposed to go to a guy’s night at a friend’s house. The girls were all going to get together with the kids at the bowling alley just to hang out. When I got there, all our friends, INCLUDING THE GUYS, were there! They got me! And, to top it all off, Matt had remembered something I had said months before. “All I want for my birthday is a cake, like a wedding cake, all girl.” He actually had someone who makes incredible cakes make the perfect cake for me! Quick Memories: finally feeling totally at home here in Germany, surrounded by such great people and having such an amazing Chapel to belong to.
December – I love Christmas. I love the trees, lights, music, snow, atmosphere, getting dark early… it’s just snuggly. And Germany really does Christmas right. NO fighting over “Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays.” No complaining that there was a manger scene at the Commissary. It felt like Christmases used to feel, before it became a soap box for both sides of the argument. The Christmas markets were fun to visit, and the food there was fun to eat. We found some of our favorite treats and went back for them on more than one occasion. I enjoyed having any possible excuse to make it downtown to our city’s Market. I think it was my favorite of all the markets I visited.Next year I want to make it to Heidelberg’s.Quick Memories: watching the mail for my Christmas cards to arrive… they finally did. January 3rd!!); a perfect Christmas Eve; Singing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus; seeing Parker in his Santa suit that fit him perfectly; hearing the boys read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke; enjoying Christmas day at home with our family of six.
Overall 2011 Quick Memories: Having friends here in Germany who absolutely don’t replace our family and friends in the states but we would add them to our list of family and friends and friends-who-are-like-family even if were living normal-people lives in the States. This Army life has its ups and downs. Meeting such amazing people is its best UP!
What are we most looking forward to in 2011? BEING DEBT FREE! We will be calling Dave Ramsey in a month or two with our Debt Free scream! We will have been working on this for a total of 4 years when we are done. Oh, and as a celebration, we’re going to take a trip to LONDON! I’ve always wanted to go there!
(Wednesday, January 5, 2011)