The Thanksgiving That Wasn’t

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Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Only it wasn’t.

Yesterday was the first time that we had a big American holiday pass us by here in Germany without any fanfare (July 4th was the end of our school year so we were busy and barely noticed).

To be honest, that knocked me down a bit and I was shocked and unprepared for that. I don’t even hold Thanksgiving in high regard. Even so, we have grown traditions based on it and yesterday, I really missed them.

Where We Would Be

The last several years have been a mix of spending the holiday with my sister’s family and Friendsgivings. I frankly never see enough of any of these people and so I have always been grateful for the opportunity to just be together. The cooking, the loud talking and laughing, the eating and drinking. The simplicity.

Last Thanksgiving. This will never not be one of my favorite pictures of this cousin crew.

If we were up in Dallas, the day would be fairly lazy. Dinner is a group event up there so each individual has little to do. Some cooking, definitely some baking. Uncle Mark would probably talk the kids into yard work under the guise of it being fun and if they didn’t fall for it, off to the park then. Dinner would be delicious, the company welcoming, and the kids, as always, just happy to be with their cousins and sneaking desserts from anyone that will plate it up for them. My sister and I would plan our evening after dinner. There is midnight shopping to be done but more importantly, we just really enjoy the time together.

If we were staying home, we tend to do Friendsgiving with the family that we choose for ourselves. No matter the year, in the life we live, there are always friends without local family. So we get together, eat well, drink too much, play cards and laugh well into the night. For many of us, it is perfection in an imperfect world.

What Really Happened

So yesterday was a normal day. Moose went to work and the kids went to school. I did housework and ran errands. We had goulash for dinner. I moped a little all day as the pictures started rolling in on Facebook. Life went on without us and honestly, while I don’t expect everyone to push pause while we are gone, it can sometimes be hard to watch. And it always makes me wonder if we did the right thing. I felt really homesick yesterday.

However, I had many reminders throughout the day that we are okay. Dude told me he loved me more than mac and cheese as I hugged him goodbye. Red’s teacher gushed to me at pick up about how well his German is coming along. The boys giggled the entire way home as they plotted their afternoons. Several people, who shouldn’t even know what day it is, went out of their way to tell me Happy Thanksgiving. A friend and fellow traveler reached out to make sure we were doing okay. Texts from home reminded me that we have not been forgotten. And the sweet man at our produce stand kept an eye out for me all day because he got me cranberries.

I may never buy canned again!

New Traditions

If you are worried about our low caloric intact, have no fear. We have plans with fellow expat friends tomorrow that involve turkey and all the fixings. Today, instead of Black Friday shopping, I will be making that last minute trip to the grocery instead. Prep work on my offerings has already begun and the cranberry sauce is already chilling in the fridge. The wine is picked out and there are some games bagged up to take over.

So in review.

Yesterday was weird and a bit difficult, today feels better and by tomorrow, the pity party will be packed away and replaced with food, friends, and new memories.

 

 

 

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It’s Beginning to Look…

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I have a secret to tell.

I love the holiday season. Really I do. All of it.  We are not religious people, in fact 3 out of the 5 of us lean towards being atheist. But we love the spirit that comes with the all upcoming celebrations including Christmas, which is of course the holiday we associate most with.

Look. I get it. Some people feel very strongly about Christmas being premature. It does seem like the stores start putting stuff out earlier and earlier every year (I am looking at you, Hobby Lobby in June). I try to respect your wishes and not start blasting holiday music from the roof top on November 1st. It is officially the week of Thanksgiving though and I am done waiting.

Up She Goes

Yesterday, we decorated our tree. The kids colored their advent bags. We drank hot chocolate and mulled wine while we ate fancy cheese and listened to Holiday Favorites on Alexa. I packed up all of our Fall decor and lit candles that smell like sugar cookies.

Have I ever told you how much I love wine and fancy cheeses?

And it was a really nice day.

I Am Not Trading In On Thanksgiving

None of this means I am skipping Thanksgiving. In fact, even though we are not even in the States anymore, we are still celebrating this weekend with some fellow expats. We will have turkey, mashed potatoes, and some extremely hard to find pumpkin pie. I am not trying to push one holiday out for another, I pinky promise.

In fact, usually I decorate the day after Thanksgiving but the lines here are blurry. The holiday season here is huge and we want to take in as much as possible. November/December is easily our favorite time of year, there is so much to celebrate. As the unofficial Activity Director of this family, I have so much to do. If I can get some of my list done and find some joy in the process, I make no apologies to getting a head start.

Fair Warning

So I am going to talk about the holidays. And my feed is going to start filling up with decorations, and baking, and Christmas Markets. If you want to know about our life here, you will have to understand that it is is part of the package. I do promise to talk about other stuff as well, if that makes it any less painful. Regular life will go on and we all know Red won’t shape up just because there is promise of gifts.

Also while we are on the subject, temperatures have dropped and it is bound to snow sooner than later. So there are going to be a weird amount of pictures of my southern babes experiencing winter. Just putting that out there. Sorry not sorry.

 

 

 

 

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Thanks Delivery Dude!

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I swear we eat fruit and veggies!

Today is my favorite day of the week! It is raining non-perishables up in here and I didn’t have lift a finger. No, don’t leave. Hear me out.

Back in the States, grocery shopping was something I really did not give much thought to. It was so easy. You drive to the store, buy groceries for a week or a day or a meal, pack your car up and drive home. Don’t even get me started on Costco. Man, oh man. Did I take that for granted.

The Struggle Is Real

One of our biggest decisions here was to not buy a car. At least not immediately. Most days, this is not a big deal. Public transportation is pretty awesome and I tend to walk everywhere I can within reason.

The one place where this plan falls short is shopping, especially for food. See, we are 5 people. We consume a lot. Enough that it is sometimes a big production at check out. Not to mention, while I have an enormous amount of pantry space, our fridge/freezer is about a third of the size that we are used to. So I grocery shop a lot. Almost daily. I have to haul it back to the apartment on foot and it is not my favorite part of our life here. I have a trolley which makes it so much better but it is definitely an uphill battle.

Which brings me to my favorite day of the week, delivery day. Back home, grocery delivery was a thing and curbside pick up was a thing and I just never used them. If they had been around years ago when the kids were little, I would have been all over that but these days, it just wasn’t necessary.

Game Changer

I quickly decided here that I needed a better solution, pulling a trolley full of food home daily was going to be the end of me. Luckily delivery here is a big deal and we have lots of options. So now I have my little splurge, seriously it costs me 10 euros a month, grocery delivery.

Yes, I know. Cool your tits Copper, it is just groceries. I get it, I know how pitiful this post is. But I get to sit on the couch, drinking coffee while I set up an order and poof, it comes to my door a few hours later. I mostly do stock-able items, I am picky about produce and meats. Still, it makes a world of difference in my day to day. Did I mention they deliver booze too? Holla!

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Bubbas

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Every night, long after the last book is read, the kisses are had, and the lights turned off, noises come from the boys room. Every night for about 20 minutes. Whispers, sounds, and giggles. I really don’t mind that it takes them a bit to slow down and go to sleep. I don’t know what they talk about in there but I feel like it is very important stuff. So we allow it.

Fourteen Months and One Day

They have meant to be from day one.

Red was born while Dude was still a baby. We didn’t plan it that way but yet, here we are. Fourteen very short months and one day after Dude was born, Red made his appearance.

There was a lot of concern that there would be jealousy, outbursts, setbacks. But there wasn’t. From the day we brought him home, it was like he was always meant to be here. Dude loved him immensely from the second he meant him. And the feeling was mutual.

Twins

Bubbas and Best Friends

The boys couldn’t be any different, not in looks nor personality. That has never stopped them from believing that they twins from a different time. They are inseparable. All of their milestones have been closely related. When one decided to do something like potty training, the other followed shortly.

They have always missed each other greatly when separated, those first few years of school for Dude were long for Red.  Afternoons after pick up though were like they had never been apart. Playing and plotting their futures as Astronauts or firefighters if that doesn’t pan out.

It doesn’t take long for anyone to figure out that they are happiest when they are together. When given the option to have separate bedrooms came up they acted like we were crazy. “We could never sleep so far apart. What is one of us gets scared?”

Hey There Bubba

Want to hear a secret?

Sure they fight. Oh how they fight. Nobody knows how to push one’s button like the other. It never last long though. Soon they back to whispering in each other’s ear, plotting and giggling away. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes I fear what they may be plotting.

They call each other Bubba. They speak a language only they understand. They are brothers first and best friends second. I have no doubt that together they will both drive me crazy and do great things.

 

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Memories

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One of my favorite features on Facebook, other than the snooze button, is Memories. When I wake up in the morning, it is literally the first thing I do. I love it, I just do.

Facebook Memories

If you don’t know what Memories is, it is a feature that shows you what was happening on that particular day in years past. You can filter it so that if there are things you don’t want to see, you don’t have to. Luckily for me, the majority of my Facebook history is full of good memories. Or at least ones that were so ridiculous, I am happy to be reminded that they are behind me.

So most mornings, while I am still buried under the covers and delaying the inevitable, I grab my phone and head over to review years past.

They Were So Cute

I mean…it was messy but I would love to repeat this moment.

Most of my Memories posts are, of course, about the kids. The boys births, Dude’s health problems, Blondie heading off to school for the first time. Play dates, surprise pregnancies, and two years where Disney World was our playground.

Pictures of the kids when they were little make both my heart and my ovaries twinge a bit. I look back on how both Blondie and Red went through the terrible 2’s and 3’s, Dude somehow cruised through just being the lovable little adventurer he was, and wonder how we made it out on the other side.

Potty training, surgeries, and moves (so many moves). Parenting alone when Moose was on the road, camp outs in my room, random date nights and friends who became family. I remember daily how wild life was, reminders of a different time that has gotten fuzzy as life has moved on.

And About Me

 

Sometimes though, I am also reminded to do things for myself. Memories of pedicures and movie nights. Blog posts and Podcast shows. And like today, solo trips. I try to at least once a year travel by myself. I actually like doing it, it is like a reset button. 4 years ago today, I packed my bags and flew to Houston by myself for a girls weekend. It was a great weekend and looking back on it reminds me that it is about time to do it again.

I need to be reminded to do these things for myself just as much as I need to be reminded that the kids were cute and messy, sweet and mean. Because it all goes so fast and I forget how much I loved those times. And it gives me the will to get up and create next year’s memories.

 

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Tis The Cold Season

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The cold has hit our house. No, not “Brrr” cold. The low key “I want to curl up and sleep for 2 weeks” cold. Blondie and I woke up achy, congested, with sore throats and runny noses. In hindsight, knowing what it is, I think maybe we weren’t the first to fall. Both boys were…difficult…last week. I did notice runny noses but to be honest, snot is pretty common with kids and I didn’t put two and two together.

Lazy Days

Luckily, it is Sunday. A relatively lazy day for us. We opted out of a park adventure and grabbed several hours of couch time together, relishing the peace and quiet while the boys were gone. Sipping on hot tea and coffee, we spent the afternoon watching Harry Potter movies.

Unfortunately a lost drone and some rain brought the men back much earlier than expected. So I had to step up my game and move from my ass groove to make some hot pretzels and cocoa. Later, I made up some quiches or torture pie, if you ask Red.

Because that is the thing that sucks about colds. You still have to function. You CAN function. It is the middle ground illness that leaves you feeling gross for days, constantly aware of when you can go to bed, down to the minute and not a moment sooner. Sure, you should be able to stay tucked away where you aren’t sharing the wealth. However, that is not how life works. Especially when you are a parent. People still need you.

Slightly Fevered Copper Idealogy

Now the flu. The flu is the better illness. You can quit being functional with the flu and no one bats an eye. Sure you will want to die but no one wants to be around someone that smells a little like vomit. You can just curl up in bed and fade in and out of consciousnesses while watching Friends reruns. Now that is the life.

Kids go to school and Moose rides public transportation, we are going to get sick. I mean, clearly healthy is the optimal situation but tis the cold season and germs are a reality. And I am just a girl, blowing her nose and popping Aleve, knowing she has 2 hours and 15 minutes until she can go to bed.

 

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The Thing About Yesterday

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I didn’t write yesterday.

I had several ideas pop up in my head. Some really great ones actually. But I didn’t write yesterday. That being said, I also didn’t fail yesterday. Sit down and pour yourself a drink because I am going to tell you why.

Friday

It was, once again, Friday. Holy crap, this was a doozy of a week. I think we have ran late all week long. The Time Change Hangover is a real thing people. It was delayed but we really felt the effects this week.

Emotions ran high this week, The good, the bad, and the really ugly. We laughed, we cried, and some of us wondered how bad we would look if we reenacted the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun”. Not the romance part, no one has time for that crap. Just the part where she runs away, buys a house in Italy by herself and eats a shit ton of pasta. Alone.

Did I mention alone? Sigh.

Needless to say, we barely crossed the finish line this week and I needed a break.

Morning

I had super high hopes yesterday morning that all would be done in good time. Such high hopes that I didn’t touch my computer. I sat on my couch and watched Brooklyn 99 all morning long. ALL.MORNING.LONG. True confession.

To be fair, I also finished the following to-do list.

-laundry….ish

-drank a pot of coffee

-grocery list

-started a loaf of beer bread

-drank the rest of the beer in the can because you can’t waste that

-maybe ate something. I don’t remember. It’s hard to believe by the size of my ass but sometimes I forget to eat. I am REALLY bad at the self care thing.

Mostly though, I laid on the couch, watching a show I have seen 100 times.

The irony of learning to bake once I have 5 bakeries within walking distance is not lost on me.

Afternoon

Much to the delight of my kids, I took the grocery list and ran through the store before getting the boys at 1 pm. At this point I am still feeling really awesome about my day and had no intention of skipping a post. I even took a picture on the way home for a possible topic.

But then the kids and I decided that such a chilly day called for hot cocoa and a Christmas movie. So for the next few hours, it was cuddles and Home Alone (everyone in that movie is a horrible person by the way, with maybe the exception of the pizza guy and John Candy).

At some point in time, the bottle of wine I had just bought called my name as I started a batch of homemade pierogis. You kinda need one to do the other. I should have known at this point that I wasn’t going to write but hopes were still drunk on a delicious bottle of Dornfelder.

Evening

Do you know where this is headed?

I got pretty tipsy.

Wine, wine, I love wine.

 

The pierogis were a success and the bread was beautiful. I made Chicken Marsala for dinner and it was a hit with the entire crowd. We were well fed and I was well hydrated.

At this point, I could have still wrote. But something happened. Red asked if I would cuddle some more on the couch. Sorry y’all. A cuddle with the kids will always take precedence over writing, every time. As he and I curled up on the couch, under a fuzzy blanket, I resigned myself to a failed day.

But…

Was it really? Okay maybe. That being said, I had a good day. I did my favorite thing, which is nothing. I got stuff done. Cooked great food. Drank even better wine. Loved on my kids.

My soul was fed, my cup was full. If that is failure than I am okay with that. There is always tomorrow.

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What’s In A Smell?

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My life is very olfactory centric. I would say a good 60 percent of my day is spent wondering about smells. I am strongly influenced by whether I find a smell pleasing or not.

Just putting that out there.

The Bad

If you ever wondered what parenthood would be like, I can summarize it in 6 words. “What the hell is that smell?”

We are 5 people in an apartment with two toilets. To be honest, at any given point in time, at least one bathroom is..ahem..in need of fresh air. Even if not that, I am convinced that someone is peeing in a corner and I can’t find it. No matter what I do, it smells like urine. Also I can’t, for the life of me, figure this out but when my boys shower it smells like wet dog. Just the boys, the rest of us leave the bathroom smelling like soap.

My kids are really beyond that innocent age when they really don’t build up much stink. Nowadays, holy hell. There is only one person in the house not using deodorant. The laundry room smells like old sweat if I let clothes pile up. My couch smells like feet. And the boys room? How much tooting can two little guys do in their sleep? I check on them every night before I crash. Opening up that door is like opening the gates of hell. How do they sleep through it? It haunts me.

The Good

The kids’ lovies all have this sleepy head smell to them. I can’t explain it but even though they may not be the freshest, I find that the smell takes me back to when they were little babes and smelled just like the stuffed animals that never left their sides.

The same goes for this spot on the back of their necks and the top of their heads. I swear, I could identify my kids blindfolded, just by that smell.  I take deep whiffs when we hug or cuddle. They always laugh at me but I catch them sneaking a sniff of me too, sighing as they do. Maybe the apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Today, for giggles after I cleaned, I put some water on the stove with a cinnamon stick, orange slices, and cloves. The whole place smelled delicious and clean all afternoon. But alas, I just checked on the sleeping Bubbas and the wall of farts was as tall and deep as ever. There is no evidence of my earlier actions at all.  That is okay. I still pushed through it to grab one last sniff of a sleepy head before calling it a day.

 

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Is It A Habit Yet?

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Keep dreaming of that book money and your dream house, girl.

You guys. We are on day seven! I have officially wrote more blog posts in the last week than I have wrote in the last two years. That makes me crazy sad. I have so much to tell you! But short little bursts on Facebook and Instagram are so much easier than the effort it takes to write here. And like I have said so many times before, I am super lazy.

Moose asked me when I announced this challenge if I had several posts in the bag to do this. First of all, if I had posts in the bag I wouldn’t need this to work on me. Secondly, the whole point is to write every day. To get words on paper. Or hard drives, if you will. So while the temptation to write ahead is strong, I will not do it. That means a serious commitment daily to do this.

The Struggle.

The process of putting out these posts is really hard. Sometimes I know exactly what to write about, it flows quickly off my finger tips, a few tweaks later and a post is done before lunch here. Other days, I sit on the couch at 9 pm, computer in my lap. struggling to focus enough to even write a title. Yesterday, I got half way through one topic before I decide to ditch and talk about Red instead. It was after midnight here when I hit publish.

My other struggle is that the posts are not perfect. I have to accept every single day that the challenge is to put a post out daily. NOT to create a perfect post. That will perhaps be my next goal but for now, it is all about the daily word count. Because that will be the first step in my next journey. More than likely, my writing will improve as I edge my way closer to the 30th. It has to, right? Practice makes perfect. But for now, you get what you get. And by the way, thank you all for continuing to read these posts in all their imperfect glory!

What Will Happen on December 1st?

This has been asked a few times and short answer is, “I don’t know.” It’s really too far out to be carving in that stone just yet. I do know that the daily posts will likely stop. They take hours a day and they will have hopefully served their purpose. That purpose will start needing that precious time.

Perhaps though, I will have a plan in place to continue them on some level. Maybe 2 posts a week? If I have learned anything so far about myself, it is that I was waiting for grand ideas to write about. I was wrong. I have missed out on many great stories because of that and I am sick of that. Some of these essays may even be stepping stones in the book, so who am I to judge their importance before I even write them down?

 

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Turning Seven

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Last month, Red turned seven. He had a great birthday despite some iffy weather. Our plans to go and discover a new park were thwarted by rain. However he still got to choose his breakfast, chocolate pop tarts, opened lots of presents, lunch at Hard Rock Cafe and 4 layer chocolate cake with prank candles.

The Age of Seven

Seven seems to be a turning point for my kids. I witnessed Blondie and Dude both really cross the line and make huge leaps into growing up while they were seven. The independence kicks in along with a real ability to handle most things thrown at them with little help from me.

Both kids really picked up reading and writing . They started to truly grasp self care on a more regular basis. There was a huge shift in the amount of responsibility they were able to handle and their grasp of consequences and life choices really tightened up.

I notice with both older kids that this was the age where their need for me became less and less. Not just for the day to day needs, but also their need for affection and attention. Sure they both will occasionally snuggle up to me when I sit down but it is becoming more and more rare for them to search for hugs and cuddles. Don’t get me wrong, if I am passing out the love, they get in line but they do not initiate it nearly as often.

What About Red

Red has always been an enigma. He doesn’t fit into many boxes. He is highly intelligent although pretty lazy. We suspect he has known how to read for quite a while but he will not confirm no matter what we do to trick him. And why his teacher keeps telling me he doesn’t understand German while he stands behind her and winks at me. He has always known the difference between right and wrong but he often doesn’t care and does what he wants. Which is why when I walked downstairs and out the building this morning, I found that he wrote the word “Poop” in big chalky letters on the sidewalk to greet everyone  leaving for work.

That being said…

He has always been a mama’s boy minus about 6 months when he was 2 and he wanted his daddy 24/7. I call him Squish and he promises me he will never leave me. He scurries into your lap the second you sit down on the couch. I can still talk him into naps if I promise to curl up next to him and pet his nose. He still needs a bazillion kisses before bedtime and carries his dog-dog around. His hand always finds mine when we walk.

When Will It Change?

It’s coming, I know it is. I feel the shift already and I truly believe this birthday is the magic number. The thought of Red growing up anymore makes me incredibly sad. I love this age, I love him at the age. I am sure I will love him at the next  stage but this here will always linger in my heart. So please try not to judge when you see me catching sniffs of his hair. Or when I baby him just a little bit more than he needs to be. Be gentle with me, my baby is seven.

 

 

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