November in Germany


We took it really easy this month and just took a short day trip to Leipzig one day. Otherwise we stayed close to home and continued to explore this little city of ours. Luckily a month without adventure is a month of great progress on a dissertation! This is a few photos from the month of November if you’d like to see.

IMG_0241Giebichenstein Castle is unfortunately closed for the winter so we just walked around the outside. It is beautifully perched on the top of the riverbank and the garden surrounding was stunning. Definitely a place to visit again in the summer with some visitors!

IMG_0203DSC02103IMG_0208 DSC02117 DSC02119We had to get 18 month vaccines for James this month. It was such a different experience than in America. For vaccines here in Germany you have to get a prescription from the doctor, get it filled at a pharmacy and then pickup the syringe from the pharmacy and take it to your doctor. They also had to completely change the injection because it had a bunch of other stuff in it that we didn’t need/want. At the office they had no concern at all for patient privacy. We were in two different exam rooms and both of them had computers open with patient’s full names, ages, addresses…it was such a strange feeling to be able to see it all. Especially because HIPPA is drilled into me so seriously as a healthcare worker. They don’t do well-baby exams outside of 12 and 24 months (which also felt bizzare). They only weighed him because we asked but no height and no questions to us about development. I swear I believed he was over 30 lbs but apparently he’s only 12.5 kg (27.5 lb).

IMG_9325 IMG_0169We found precooked and cut beets! A little comfort I am happy to pay for in exchange for a some extra nutrients. And he likes them! Don’t judge: We remove all clothes for meals because he refuses to wear a bib and we have coin laundry.

IMG_9097These two. They have more fun together than anyone I’ve ever met. I’m a lucky girl to witness their bond.

IMG_9142IMG_9144He looks like such a big kid to me in the picture!

IMG_9150He couldn’t do that when we moved here three months ago. The development they go through is crazy!

IMG_9159The closest we’ll get to a Christmas card I’m afraid.

IMG_9169IMG_9170What could be more fun than running around naked while wearing your mother’s earmuffs and making funny faces at yourself in the mirror?

IMG_9182I have nothing. He’s huge.

IMG_9229IMG_9286IMG_9288The first time building a fort at home was a major success — until it wasn’t. Ha.

IMG_0284 IMG_0290This is a Weihnachtsmarkt or Christmas Market. They are one of the truly magical things about Germany and we plan to visit a couple of the most extravagant ones in other cities throughout December. I’ll post more about them then! Since they don’t have Thanksgiving to look forward to, Christmas celebration starts early and no one seems to mind. I love it!

IMG_0310IMG_9314Our first time trying roasted chestnuts. Have you ever had them? I was expecting something more but maybe my standards were too high. Kind of like when you try Turkish Delight for the first time. Good…but you were expecting magic!

IMG_0371Lazy fall days.

DSC02073DSC02079I randomly found this wall on a walk one day. It looks like a lot of dates but otherwise I can’t tell what it is. Any guesses?

DSC02084Gosh, he loves riding the tram.

DSC02095A small memorial on the steps of the Rathaus (City Hall) for the Paris tragedy. I didn’t take pictures but there is a French flag hanging on an apartment building on our street now and Mark noticed a condolence book in the University library too. I was surprised to see this for some reason. It was really heart warming to find.

IMG_9259On Thanksgiving we hosted 14 people from South Africa, Brazil, France, Russia, and Japan for a simple little dinner. We were glad to give people a glimpse into a great US tradition and also what better way to make some new friends :) Hope we did you proud America! Can you believe we found a turkey?! We also made stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, turkey chili, roasted vegetables. We couldn’t find pumpkin puree but a couple days later we found some pumpkins, made the puree from scratch and boy was it delicious. I’m just sorry we didn’t get a chance to share it with those who have never had any! You can see my very humble attempt at decorating the table since we try very hard not to buy extras like those while we’re here. Sticks and leaves from the yard plus some fruit and candles were all I could manage (free or edible!).

DSC02145DSC02148DSC02154We forgot to take a family picture (or really any of the night at all) so I took this on the way up to our apartment to put James to bed. Better than nothing!

DSC02162We took a short trip to Leipzig a couple weeks ago. We both LOVED it and can’t wait to go back. For being so close, Halle and Leipzig feel worlds apart. Leipzig feels much more cosmopolitan, much more worldly. Halle feels small and of the people. They’re just so very different.

IMG_9377 DSC01947DSC01933Thomaskirche is where Bach was choir director for over 25 years and their Boy’s Choir is world famous! I can’t wait to go during a service and experience all the beauty.

DSC01968DSC01971DSC01973DSC01977DSC01981DSC01983DSC01993DSC02007An embarrassing little story for the books: I went into this restaurant bathroom to change James’ diaper…And got locked inside for a good 15 minutes. The key was one of those old skeleton keys and when I went to unlock it just spun and spun. I tried all the ways and nothing worked! Mark was walking by the bathroom, heard me pounding and went to get help, having no idea it was us in there. James was screaming “stuck stuck stuck!” and wouldn’t be put down while I tried everything I could think of to move the key. I was really worried we were going to be in there for hours. They were yelling to me to try different things in German and Mark was trying to translate through James’ noises. Somehow he also thought to snap this picture of five of the waiters working on getting us out. I was imagining being stuck in the bathroom overnight, without food and a hungry/tired toddler. We’re so lucky they finally got us out! I’ll never forget how relieved and ridiculous I felt. It’s a good story now I guess :) But boy, it wasn’t at the time…

IMG_9354We are hoping to visit some of the best German Christmas Markets in December, celebrate Christmas somewhere else (maybe Dresden?) while Mark continues his steady progress and then off to the Swiss Alps in January. Where to after that? We have so many ideas! Suggestions for us?



A Prayer for the End of Nursing

Mollie_Newborn-110I posted this poem, written by a friend, on Facebook but it’s too good not to share on here as well. I couldn’t help but tear up at the perfectly written summarization of the absolute joy and challenge from nursing a little one and the subsequent sorrow and relief when that relationship has to end. It’s full of truths that might not always be described in such perfect detail. Mamas who nursed a day or a year, I think there is truth in this for you.

A Prayer for the End of Nursing

O Lord, you have searched me
and known me.

You knew the moment when that sweet baby skin
first touched my chest
when that sweet little mouth
gaped like a fish
when that shocking moment of connection was made:
Mother. Child. One.
You knew.

You knew the struggles, and the pain.
The mostly sleepless nights
The one- (two-) (three-) (three-thirty-) a.m. wake-up calls.
The disconcerting, disorientating, barely-functioning
And still
the sweet baby skin and the gaping little mouth
the instant peace and the murmuring suckling.
You knew.

You knew the feeling of miracle
that awesome moment of realization
that exactly what they need
is exactly what I have in me
and everything that is me
(milk, body, heart, arms)
is given freely to sustain and nurture their life
—and then that awe-full moment of recognition
of deeper appreciation
for the words “this is my body,
given for you.”
This is my body, given for them.
You knew.

You knew the rhythms and the hours
of nursing and pumping
of sleeping and snuggling
of crying and impatience and the frantic, shaky, waving tiny hands
as the shirt gets caught
or the store clerk goes too slow
or a hundred other impediments leap up
between the present moment and MILKRIGHTNOW!
You knew.

You knew the feeling of panic
the counting of bags in the freezer
of hours between pumpings
of ounces in the bottle
of months/weeks/days
until this all could be DONE
secretly knowing how hard it would be
for it all to end.
You knew.

You knew the feeling of gratitude
for those rosy lips, parted in sleep
for that instant smile when we’ve been apart
for the feeling of expansion
of my heart
of my life
of yet another way I will live out my vocation as your child
by stewarding and tending and nurturing my own child;
the awesomeness of being part of your Creation—
quite literally.
You knew.

You knew the twinge
the first twinge
that first moment when they start to pull away
when the solids that were rejected
or tasted and then used as hair gel
become interesting, delicious, good
and the sessions of sleepy suckling snuggling
start to lessen.
You knew.

And you know now
The feeling of wrenching
of tearing
of separateness
because it all is done.
The sadness, the mourning, the loss
interwoven with the relief, the joy, the pride
the cords of reassurance and the embroidery of gratitude
that we made it this far in the breastfeeding marathon
that I gave them this much
that this experience of oneness, of miracle, of struggle
of sleepy suckling snuggling
will live on in my body
as they once lived in my body:
nourished, cherished, cradled
in a safe place of sweet memory and thanksgiving
You know.

And so:
give me comfort
give me peace
give me reassurance
that though this type of sustenance is through
my hands, my body, my heart, my spirit will still be needed
to feed
to quench
to tend
to care
for them.

Just as you do for me.

You knit me together in my mother’s womb:
knit my heart together now.


By Rachel Wrenn. Originally found here.



Photo by Kristy Powell.