Having a baby in the summer is pretty wonderful. Audrey was born the week the field behind our house bloomed in beautiful purple and branches of our cherry tree hung heavy with ripe fruit. Everywhere, growing things. Everywhere, new life. Having a baby in the summer means that even when the nights bring little sleep, the sun sets late—very late in Germany—and rises again quite early, which somehow feels a little less exhausting and a little more hopeful. The windows are open and the sun is actually shining and there are walks to be taken and nectarines to be enjoyed.
But having a baby in the summer also means that the summer passes by really, really quickly. Late September, already? The pools are closed already? The leaves are falling already?
We are wholehearted lovers of autumn. But this year, knowing that we’ll likely be gone from this place next summer, we’re reluctant to say goodbye.
I suppose it’s high time for a little update from our home. After a full July of visitors here to help out and hold babies, we took a little trip to Spain in August (maybe some more on that later) and John left almost immediately afterward for a month of training in the states.
The time alone with the kids was surprisingly good—a confidence builder for me in figuring out how to manage our daily routine and home and maintain some measure of sanity. I feel like Daniel took huge strides while John was away. Audrey, when she’s not crying, is developing such a sweet little personality of her own, cooing and smiling and imitating sounds. She prefers to be held always and she’s not a very good napper (of course, I’m writing this during a glorious, rare window when both kids are napping–what?!), but she’s doing really well at night.
Out of necessity, of course, we managed to actually do things while John was away- walks, the park, the pool, the grocery store, etc. The days are so much better when we get out of the house, preferably outside as much as possible. Halfway through my month of solo parenting, my life long best friend Rachel came out for a visit. Sweet, sweet relief.
A little background: Rachel was born exactly a week after me, lived about a block away for the first ten years of our childhood, and we went to the same school and church until her family moved 4-ish hours north for our church’s full time camping ministry (which is one of my most favorite places on earth, see more here). Thanks to letters and e-mails and grandparents who carted us back and forth for visits, we maintained a close friendship despite the distance. It’s been 25 years now, and I think it’s safe to say this relationship is permanent. She’s stuck with me for the long haul. Even so, you know your friend is a keeper when she takes two weeks of vacation and buys a ticket to Europe to hang out with you and your toddler and newborn.
When we first began talking about this hypothetical trip, I imagined escaping for a weekend kid-free to linger over coffee in quaint cafes or taking a French cooking class or perusing flea markets. We were still able to do and see a great deal during her time here, but with much greater effort and at a slower pace! Her visit during John’s absence was a great blessing to me- the days get a little lonely when your only conversations are with a 2 year old and an extra set of hands to hold a fussy baby or push the stroller or refill a sippy cup are much, much appreciated.
We spent four days in Paris, visited the American Cemetery in Luxembourg and spent an afternoon in Trier, Germany’s oldest city. We toured Burg Elz and scenic Cochem along the Mosel, spent part of a day at a local natural swimming pool, hit up the bazaar on base, ate a German dinner downtown, enjoyed the Rodenbach culinary hike and visited the Gartenshau for life-size dinosaurs and gorgeous flowers.
One evening, we had a fire outside and made bacon s’mores. Other evenings we spent experimenting with water colors or eating gelato. We drank an incredible amount of coffee. It was a fun and fast and very full visit. We’ve also decided that for our 30th, we should take a kid-free trip to the mountains. Or perhaps to an island. Or anywhere, really.
John arrived the same day Rachel left, so I spent the day in Frankfurt with the kids between their flights. After dropping Rachel off, we went to the zoo, which is so much fun with Daniel at this age, and grabbed Chipotle and coffee at the mall before heading back to the airport again. Daniel was delighted, pointing to every single plane (Taaaane! Shwoooooosh!) in the sky on the way to ask if that one was his daddy’s. He’s been running around the house all smiles since John has been back. I’m glad, too.
Life should be refreshingly normal for the next couple of months. We plan on doing a bit of traveling as our time in Europe begins to wind down, but mostly, we’re happy to just be home. Sad as we are to say goodbye to our last German summer, we are looking forward to a warm, cozy house to enjoy, evenings sitting by our fireplace, brisk hikes in the woods, just slowing down a little. Work, kids, laundry, dishes, church, community: the ordinary, beautiful things that make up our life. Here’s to autumn and change and gratitude, which turns what we have into more than enough.