Thursday, December 31, 2020

Seasons

Do you ever just get slammed with the end of a season? Oh, football is over? Shucks. Oh my! I was engaged and now I'm (gasp!) at the altar! I've been pregnant for 8 months and... oh never mind, the ending is always long and arduous when it comes to pregnancy. LOL. But I hope you get what I mean... sometimes the baby is the baby... until one day (bam!) they're not. They're toddling, babbling, and weaning... and it all happens in an instant, or so it seems.

I've had that feeling this past Autumn... as I contemplated what's next: my baby starting Kita, my return to work, and the end of the most luxurious maternity leave--even with a pandemic. But the feeling really came when (BAM!) earlier this month I realized: It's time to stop blogging. It didn't feel like a slowly building idea or opinion, just a quick, sudden realization that this has been an amazing season (14.5 years long!) and that the season is coming to a close. 

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching and self-learning during this year, observing what I think about playing "Stay at home Mom" for a year and being eternally grateful for the luxurious privilege of being able to choose almost any ratio of employment hours I want when I return. I'm planning my return to work, and I'm looking forward to yet another decrease in hours so that I can support both my family and myself better. It's a bit ironic, but I'm planning to go back to how I started work after my first child: 20 hours per week, Monday through Thursday. And I'm excited! 

But the visions I've had for myself, in what I want to accomplish, and what I want to spend my time on, I've realized that brainstorming, composing, editing, and publishing blog posts each week just doesn't fit in. I've got so many dreams of things I want to do, and if I'm really honest with myself, the blog has taken up a lot of my free time... and I'm ready to let it go so that I can do other things.

But, it leaves me here, at the ol' Couch of Red, blindsided by the moment of Goodbye. And in all honesty, it's a goodbye to you, my little group of faithful readers. I've more than enjoyed this weekly adventure... but it's you that have made it the most fun. I've looked forward each week to my blog posts, and I hope you've enjoyed it, too. I'll miss it and you to be sure. 

It’s been 872 Blog Posts, 344 “7 Quick Takes”, and 14.5 years! What a journey. Thank you for your readership, your love and support, and especially your comments, ideas, and banter. I started this blog wanting to both share and especially to laugh. Hopefully I've added laughter to your story and I'm happy to say that it's added a lot of laughter to mine. If 2020 has taught us anything, I think we've all realized the need to keep laughing... no matter the circumstances. So thank you. It's hard to convey all that I feel for how much you've given me in the 14.5 years of blogging... but it's a lot. 

Cheers to wonderful seasons, and cheers to you.

In closing, I'll share a favorite photo of mine from 2020, enjoying the beauty, and the end of a season... and acknowledging how beautiful everything is... even at the end. 


Please keep in touch, friends. I'll miss you. 

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Take 344

7 Quick Takes Friday
--- 1 ---
One week to Christmas! I finished baking our cut-out sugar cookies so that we can decorate them sometime next week. Let's see how many of them make it out of the freezer still whole and not cracked... a gamble every year. Every year I lean into my best Type-A-ness and attempt to make bakery level cookies. LOL. These were from our first year of marriage in 2012:
--- 2 ---
Christmas realization: I should absolutely not start Advent next year with one Scotch Tape. There's a tiny battle in my home where the scotch tape bounces between my wrapping station and the kids' project table. I'm planning to win this battle. Or just buy another 99 cent scotch tape. Hah!
--- 3 ---
We went back into lockdown here in Germany... I have to admit that outside of a few playdates, it doesn't change our life much. Christmas break was coming anyway... time to hunker down and eat cookies. Right??
--- 4 ---
However, because this is the first lockdown where my children are older than kindergarten, I've had my first foray into remote learning... And I have to tell you: I'm a fan. A big one. I spent 10 weeks alone with my 3 kids this spring and if someone had handed me learning sheets to keep my kids busy... I would've loved them forever. So I'm all #gratitude over here.
--- 5 ---
Three HUGE Hoorays for my dear (sainted) husband who spent many sessions with our kids constructing this Lego set... a symbol of the port of Hamburg. Too fun. Lots of patience... and memories. #moregratitude
--- 6 ---
I've been trying to enjoy Christmas music in whatever form I can find it... I'm totally guilty of being a fan of Hanson's Christmas Album... (Thank you early 2000's high school experience.) ...But Brenda Lee? I'd rather die. I can't handle her AT. ALL. Sorry, girl.
--- 7 ---
We've had the same TV for 8 years, and it finally bit the dust. It wasn't new when we got it (thanks, Dad and Mom!), so when we set up our brand new TV last week, I've had trouble adjusting to the all-too-real picture quality. I feel like I've been transported to the future with how good the picture is. Like, hard to actually take it seriously. 


Happy Saturday! And Merry Christmas next week! ... 
You won't see me here. I'll be celebrating in our socially distant way over here in Germany... Missing you, of course.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Take 343

7 Quick Takes Friday
--- 1 ---
I did a thing! I've always wanted to *really* learn how to make wreaths... so this year, I did! Youtube to the rescue and $20 on two wreath metal rings, and we're set to go! I have one in my kitchen and one on our front door. I'm in love!

--- 2 ---
We officially own the Nat King Cole Christmas album... and I do love that man's silky voice... but my fluent-in-German-children literally can't handle his "O Tannenbaum". "He's talking wrong!" Yes. He is. It's like nails on a chalkboard.
--- 3 ---
Brian and I have made it through the first half of the Dolly Parton documentary on Netflix... and we had so much fun watching it! But in other news, I had NO IDEA she wrote I will always love you. This has shaken my world.
--- 4 ---
If you are looking for more ways to feel "Cozy" in our pandemic holiday season, might I suggest peppermint simple syrup? Boil 1 c. water and 1 c. sugar until dissolved. Take off heat and mix in 1 tsp peppermint extract. Peppermint hot cocoa, peppermint mochas, and there's probably a cocktail or two waiting for you, if you like that direction... but I haven't looked that up, yet...
--- 5 ---
I made my first round of buttermilk biscuits (that I can remember) a few weeks ago. They were good. Like: Dangerous. (Of course they were from Smitten Kitchen.) So, when I went to find a cranberry scone recipe last weekend, I was suspicious that this scone recipe had no egg in it... Scones have egg in it (as far as I'm aware), but what I saw was... tada! Buttermilk biscuits... with orange and cranberry. I was a fan--but yes, it was a bad recipe and I doctored it. I did a second batch this week with the remaining cranberries and would tweak it once more... but it's "A box" recipe.
--- 6 ---
How's your Christmas prep going? Mine is chugging along and I have to say: maternity leave is a great time to prep for Christmas... I feel like everything is so peaceful compared to when I had a desk job. LOL.  I'm hoping to be mostly done once the kids are off school because... #LessPrivacy :) 

Oh, and I need to get on the Christmas Cookie bandwagon. I'm way behind this year. GASP.
--- 7 ---
Guys. Guitar Center filed for bankruptcy. I'm assuming they'll "reorg and make it happen", but I totally had forgotten how many Saturdays of my childhood my Dad and I would go tool around at a Guitar Center. All the warm fuzzies. Best wishes, Guitar Center. Thanks, Dad.


Happy Friday!

Friday, December 04, 2020

Take 342

7 Quick Takes Friday
--- 1 ---
Happy Advent! I have so many things to share--none of them earth shattering, but mostly Christmas prep oriented. One thing I did on Thanksgiving (for fun!) was to collect Thanksgiving photos from years past and copy them all to a folder on my computer and have my screen saver do a slideshow of those photos. It was such a delight to sift through old photos and even more fun to have everyone enjoying them all afternoon. I can't wait to do this for Christmas, too!
--- 2 ---
But first! I can't sit around enjoying old photos when there's a Christmas card to send out... Funniest comment of the week from Brian: "We thought we were done with wedding lists after we got married... This is just another version... every year." LOL. So. True. Cheers to all of you working to send snail mail cheer. I understand that no one should be responsible for this (big) job during such a crazy year, but I can't tell you how eager I am to receive Christmas (posted) cheer from loved ones. 
--- 3 ---
This is the first year that I have a legitimate budding reader in the house... I officially must refrain from leaving my Christmas gift list with "Santa - Child" on the paper... Lest the magic come to a close... Or "Stocking Stuffer Candy" on my shopping list. So glad he's reading! LOL.
--- 4 ---
In other Santa news, our home was not designed for Christmas hiding. I have one storage closet, one coat closet, and one pantry: all used regularly by all family members and none of which are particularly suited to store much more in the way of gift hiding. HOWEVER! We do have a large gift that we're hiding... and we basically hid it in full sight in the back of the coat closet. Zero children noticed or asked. It is basically a part of the furniture at this point... So that's nice.
--- 5 ---
Speaking of our linen closet... It's so full of boxes (in the roughly 4'x4' space) that we ended up storing boxes right in the middle of the box... Shelving units on both sides (that are full), with two tupperwares right in front of you when you open the door... making it hard to get in and out of the closet. My genius husband took those two tupperware storage boxes and put them on top of one of those square moving dollys on wheels. Seriously the best idea ever--it's now very easy to access whatever we need in that closet.
--- 6 ---
Remember how I blamed Justin Timberlake for asking for the "Hard Stuff"? Well, go check out his Instagram for a new single released... It's titled, "Better Days". So, basically he heard me. Thank God. On to 2021. 
--- 7 ---
Last but not least, I give you: a 2020 Date. No, our year was not littered with new restaurants (Same as you), which has always been our preferred way to enjoy a date night... In 2020? We ordered a new TV, and had to go pick it up from a docking entrance at the mall... at 10 am on a Thursday. Baby in the back seat, kids in school, and you bet your bottom dollar I put on a dress, knee high boots and lipstick. We on a date, yo. This is 2020. #KeepinItReal

Happy Friday!