Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Ready For a New Year

As the cold and mist settle in and the last leaves flutter down from bare branches, I am ready to welcome winter, and say farewell to 2013. 

Since moving to a country with the four seasons, I have learned what the cold season means for my soul. It's a quiet, contemplative time. A time to gather your nerves, hunker down, light candles, and be strong. The survivor inside of me is called forth. I cook hearty meals and am challenged with extra chores like washing salt and mud from doggy paws after walks and dressing my wriggly toddler in many layers before each outing. 

Long icy winters build character. They test your patience and optimism. I appreciate people who appreciate winter. When someone says, "I love winter," they are immediately a bit more charming to me. 

As much as winter wears on me by the time February rolls around, I really love the beginning. The first snow; that clean, pure smell the air has on a freezing winter evening. The glow of warm homes, dots of lights in the velvety dark blue of night. The lemony morning sky. Gathering evergreen and pine cones in the woods. Baking gingerbread and making lemon curd. Piling the quilts on the bed and waking up to a snow covered world.

I have been trapped at home all week with a sick boy. I think we have passed the worst. We had some pretty horrible days and nights. And as you can imagine, I am longing for the woods, for fresh air, for moving my legs, watching my boy as he scrambles up hillsides and climbs wood piles. I miss taking photographs and observing the daily minute changes in our forest. 

Surely Rafael misses it all too.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Late Fall

As I write this, Rafael is cuddled up on the couch with a fever watching Handy Manny, and the first snow is falling outside, leaving everything covered in white. We rolled out sticky brown dough this morning and baked up foxes, stars, and hedgehogs, and now our home has the deep spicy scent of gingerbread. The dogs are snoring. We are still in our pajamas. 

These photos were taken a few days ago before Rafael fell sick, at the local nature park. There are deer and wild pigs, and now that the cold weather had settled in, there are huge piles of sugar beets that you can feed to them. Raffi and his cousins loved climbing over the sugar beets, picking out the biggest ones, and giving them to the deer and pigs. Rafael said he was 'working,' which meant taking beets from one pile and bringing them to another. I was so glad that the large deer buck came to us, eating the roots from our hands, letting me take some photos of him with his herd.

Thank you all for the words that came from your hearts. I felt the warmth and comfort in them. This year has been incredibly difficult and at times very dark for me, from beginning to end. There are some things I haven't shared here because they are too personal and painful. But you have always been here, a source of light and support. I am very grateful.

Now, when Raffi is sick, it is time for patience, cuddling, reading books, and waiting. I can hardly wait to get out into the snowy woods!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Goodbye

This goodbye has been so much easier than our went so fast and I never saw it's heart beating. Still, it is a cruel thing...being taken on an emotional rollercoaster ride of joy and then loss. 

I found out I was pregnant on Thursday. "What are you doing next July 20th?" I asked my husband over the phone. "July 20th? I don't know, why?" "That's the due date of our next baby!" 

And then I lost it on Saturday.

So it was two days of excitement and worry. 

We both felt that mix of happiness and anxiety that only parents who have lost a baby before truly know.  

Maybe having a healthy child here, living, breathing, laughing, causing mayhem and making me laugh and pull my hair out at the same time, makes something like this easier. Having this blessing and being reminded that this is enough. If I never am blessed with a child again, it is enough. I am already so lucky.

So we say 'goodbye' to the tiny little poppyseed-sized bundle of cells and love and possibility, and focus on our blessings. 

Thank you....for always sharing in my journey. 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What these pictures don't tell you...

What these pictures don't tell you is that the past couple of weeks have been a struggle. My husband was nearing a burn-out, I cry almost every morning out of frustration because getting Rafael and the dogs and myself ready to leave the house feels like an almost impossible feat, and I feel disconnected to my friends and family.

What these pictures don't tell you is that what I really truly desire is to connect deeply and truly with people; to understand and feel understood; to support and feel supported.

What these pictures don't tell you is that I have selfish material desires, like a big lovely home surrounded by land and trees. I try to be content with what I have, it's more than I dared to wish for in the past. But fantasies creep up into my mind, no matter how hard I try to focus on my blessings.

What these pictures don't tell you is that I don't know what I'm doing sometimes. I don't know if I'm doing the right thing for my son, for my dogs, for my husband, for my friends, for my family, for my self. 

What these pictures don't tell you is that I get pangs of jealousy when I look at pictures on Instagram. And then I feel guilty for feeling jealous. 

What these pictures don't tell you is that I have gained back 7 of the 25 pounds I lost. 

What these pictures don't tell you is that I worry. I worry so much and so often!

What these pictures don't tell you is that my most meaningful relationship is with my son. It scares and overwhelms me how significant and important he is to me. It frightens me how much I love him. It baffles me that this person, who is so tiring, demanding, and exhausting, can be the light of my life and the one thing in my life I know to be true and good.


Monday, November 4, 2013

This Boy, Right Now

I am overwhelmed, beginning this post, with the goal of recording what my two year old son Rafael is like right now. The funny, amazing things he says...the things he likes...our relationship. I haven't written a growth update in longer than I would like to admit, I guess because you don't realize the leaps and bounds your child makes in the every day, but rather, looking back at how he used to be compared to today. 

A friend said to me, "I hope you've been writing down everything Raffi says," and I did feel sad admitting that I hadn't. Not at all. The thing is, Rafael is verbally so advanced, and it all went so quickly, that I wasn't really able to!

But here, I'll try to make up for that in a small way.

He holds conversations, forms whole sentences, and asks people how they are doing. He also likes to ask people where they were, and where they are going. 

He tells stories about the day, and is beginning to grasp the concept of 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow.'

A few days ago he began saying "I" instead of his name, as in, "I want milk" instead of "Raffi want milk." 

He says "Ich hab dich lieb" ("I love you").

He says 'bitte' ('please') and 'danke' ('thank you').

He understands English, and speaks a little bit of English, although he usually answers in German.

He understands emotions like sad, angry, and happy. Lately, when his father comes home, he says, "Ich freu mich!" ("I'm feeling happy!") Or "Ich bin so glücklich!" ("I'm so happy!")

He uses difficult words like "Sauerstoffmaske" ("oxygen mask"), "Rettungswagen" ("ambulance"), "Kompliziert"("complicated"), "Konzentriert" ("concentrated"), "Lokomotive" ("train"), "Begleiten" ("accompany"), "Reparieren" ("repair")....

He can count to 10 in both English and German.

He knows the entire lyrics to many songs and sings often.

He knows the order in which songs in an album come. In other words, he always knows what song is coming next.

He knows the names of all of his friends, all of their parents, and all of the local dogs. When he meets someone new, he always wants to know their name. 

He knows the names of all of the rooms in our home. If he asks where a toy of his is, and you say it's in his room or the living room, he knows where to look.

He knows about death. We found a dead pigeon, and a dog we knew died. I tried to explain that being dead means you go to sleep and don't wake up. I wasn't really sure how else to explain it to a two year old. He sometimes says things like, "The pigeon died. Mama did not die, and Papa did not die. I also didn't die." 

He remembers who gave him gifts. Even months later, he'll pick up a toy and say who gave it to him.

He understands big and small, up and down, light and dark, inside and outside, loud and quiet, near and far, old and fresh/new, and right and left. 

He adores his cousins, who are 3 and 6 years old. He asks about them all the time and loves spending time with them.

He sleeps in his own bed and room. His father reads him three books at bedtime and then he gets a bottle. Lately he prefers to have me put him to sleep, and my right arm always has to be naked so that he can stroke it while he falls asleep. Sometimes he doesn't say a word at bedtime, and other times he goes on and on about his day. 

Some funny things he has said lately:

About a mean-looking jack-o-lantern we saw on a walk: "That pumpkin is scolding us!"

About his uncle's cast after he broke his arm: "You have a huge band-aide on!"

About his babysitter's hair when she arrived with her hair up for the first time: "Tina, you have a new haircut!"

To me yesterday: "I'm very big, Mama. I'm already as big as you! You're very small." 

To a woman who was walking her pug: "Where is your second dog?" This is funny because almost everyone we know has two dogs, so he seems to think dogs only come in twos!

About a bald man jogging by: "That man is wearing a helmet." 

Rafael's father told him he had to head to the office. Rafael said he wants to go too. His father said, "You would be very bored there, I just sit at a computer." Now Rafael says often to me, "Papa is at the office, sitting." 

Yesterday at the zoo, there was an announcement saying "Attention, little Tim is looking for his father. He can be picked up at the information booth." Rafael was very concerned and kept saying to me, "The father is lost! The child lost his father!" I had to tell him again and again that everything was fine, and the boy had found his 'lost' father again.

Raffi's favorite thing to do in the evenings is crank up the heaters in his room and then run around naked until bath time.

Every time he hurts himself, he demands a band-aide, even if he isn't bleeding. And when he gets upset and cries about something, he says he wants to lay down and sleep.

He asks a million questions, especially about what we just did, or what we are about to do. He makes me repeat very often who we saw, where we were, what we did, what happened. Or where we are going, who will be there, what we will do there. Sometimes it can be exhausting how many questions he asks!

I am sure after hitting 'publish' I will remember many more things that this boy says and does. I am glad I finally recorded a few of them...I know I will be so grateful later, looking back, remembering this point in time. 

xoxoxo Love from a very proud Mommy.


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