The second year of a pandemic, a whole year with Jane Louise, and countless more memories with the love of my life. The world can often feel like it’s falling down around us, but Scott’s love is steady and constant. He points our marriage and family to the Lord and I am eternally grateful that I get to be his wife. Five whole years! I can’t believe it, but also feel like we’ve been together forever. Without further ado, here’s our year five in review.
As I looked back at these first few months of 2021, I realized how uneventful they were. “Scott, what did we do in March? Do you have any photos?” He sent me a few shots of his travels in Africa and I remembered that he was gone. A lot.
Jane was growing like crazy and we were figuring out all her little quirks and establishing a rhythm as a family of three. With Scott away for weeks at a time, finding that routine and keeping the plates spinning at home was tough. Long days, cold weather, and nights of interrupted sleep. But in hindsight, most of my photos are of a happy, giggling baby so I know something was going right. At the end of the month, she moved to her own room and fell in love with her crib. Is it dramatic to say that this was life-changing for all of us? Oh sleep. Sweet, sweet sleep.
Baby’s first Easter! We celebrated with mass and a long, sunny hike with our friends Josh and Rachel in their village. Scott flew more missions here and there. Jane, Ralph and I caught some rays at the park as springtime began to emerge. When Scott was home, we picked tulips at a local field–just dropped some Euros in the box and paid by the stem. Sometimes Europe is downright dreamy that way. (When it’s not raining. During a pandemic. Sigh.) Later in the month, Jane rolled over for the first time which was a big event around here!
I celebrated my first Mother’s Day with a baby in my arms. Scott came home from yet another mission and we soaked up time together. We started feeding Jane solids and after an uncertain start with avocado, she took to pretty much every other food we gave her. The love affair between Jane and food had officially begun.
We spent Memorial Day weekend in Munich for our first foray into traveling with a baby. She did great and slept in the hotel like a champ. We reveled in exploring a new city for the first time in ages, drinking beer and lounging in the beautiful parks. Bavaria always enchants me.
Travel with a little one in tow is definitely different and more challenging, but Scott and I were never ones to stay out late and party anyways. Now we have a really good excuse for being back at the hotel and in our pajamas by eight o’clock, binge-watching a new show.
If there was any boredom in the first few months of the year, the eventful stuff must have been saved for June. Scott had a big three-week exercise in Morocco while Jane and I held down the fort at home. We enjoyed a quick daytrip to Luxembourg with our friend Rachel. It was a lovely getaway for Jane’s first trip outside of Germany.
Two days after Scott returned from Morocco, we left for the United States–the first time we’d seen our families in over a year! To say we were excited for them to meet Jane is an understatement. We endured the long nine-hour flight and reunited with my side of the family. It was so good to be home.
We were blessed to celebrate Jane’s baptism, which was such a special day with our favorite people. I even got to sneak in a quick visit with Emily and Marissa. For the first time since Jane came along, Scott and I enjoyed a date night–an Astros game, of course.
Fireworks, a giant water balloon fight, and lots of time at the farm for July 4th. We couldn’t have timed our visit better if we’d tried: Evan’s grapes needed harvesting and we were so happy to help!
After a couple blissful weeks in Tomball, we headed to Buda for even more family love at Scott’s mom’s. More cousin time, amazing food, and sunny days in the pool. We even had a night with our friends who live in the Austin area. After being spoiled rotten with quality time with our loved ones, it was ultimately time for the return to Germany. Ralph was certainly happy we came back for him.
At the end of the month, we took a quick trip to Switzerland in the Jungfrau region. It was absolutely spectacular and I love looking back at our photos. The view from our hotel alone has me wanting to book another Swiss getaway.
Scott turned 29 and we celebrated with yet another chocolate sheet cake. As summer came to a close, we spent a wonderful day at the local pool with Jane. Scott had another big mission, this time to Bulgaria for a couple of weeks. After so much time apart since the beginning of the year, it was definitely starting to wear on me. Luckily Jane was pretty much always happy–crawling at this point and still sleeping like a dream. The days were looong, but I had a very sweet companion.
Operation Allies Refuge became a big part of almost everyone’s life here at Ramstein, as the base housed and evacuated thousands of travelers from Afghanistan. It was a huge undertaking and definitely put many of my “problems” into perspective.
Scott came home! That seems like the theme of the year. Long days and weeks with him gone, and then a big sigh of relief when he came home. The temperatures already started dropping in September which meant apple picking with the girls. I’m definitely going to miss all the seasonal events when we leave Germany.
I also started a new Bible study on base and enjoyed my weekly outings for some much-needed scripture and adult conversation. Finding the sweetest caregiver for Jane was a huge plus–dependable childcare is nothing short of amazing.
Jane came down with her first real illness–a virus that spiked a fever of 104 and put us in the ER on a Friday night. A little scary for first-time parents, but after a couple of days she was just fine and back to her usual happy self.
She had a blast visiting the pumpkin patch later that month, but the real event was secretly in the works: Scott had short-notice orders to head to Little Rock for five weeks of training. After so much time by myself for the year, we decided to all head back to the States–Scott to Little Rock and Jane and I to Houston. I surprised my family and simply walked through my parents’ front door one evening for their “pumpkin carving night.” They were flabbergasted and I still laugh when I picture their faces. They all looked like they were seeing a ghost. I’m so glad I decided to keep our visit a secret. It was the beginning of a very special time with Jane and her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was at such a great age to have the best month with the fam.
Jane and I helped with Christmas tree farm prep as much as we could, Scott trained on the simulator in Little Rock, and the days passed quickly until all of the sudden our baby turned a whole year old. How did that even happen? I remember peering at her asleep in her crib on the morning of her first birthday, marveling at the little girl lying there. She’s just incredible and I cherish every day we get with her. She had the sweetest party, complete with Tex-Mex and lots of cake, of course.
We made it to Austin for some wonderful G-Mom time and Jane got to meet Uncle Jake, Aunt Jenna, Warren and Rosalie! Plus time with Granddad–always a treat.
The Christmas tree farm successfully opened for the season while we were in Austin, but we returned for Thanksgiving–and Scott made it to Tomball for the holiday! It was so nice to see him again and Jane was ecstatic to have her dad back for a bit. The farm had a record-setting weekend and I found myself back in my old life, cashiering, baling trees, and filling in where I could.
After a whirlwind weekend at the farm, Scott had to return to Little Rock and the next day I turned thirty. (Ugh.) The best consolation was celebrating with the whole fam for my and Courtney’s joint birthday.
Unfortunately, the day after the party I tested positive for a certain virus. Thirty was definitely not my year so far, and I was panicking that I’d just gotten my entire family sick. Thankfully that ended up not being the case as no one else caught it, and I recovered fairly quickly while my parents valiantly took over caring for Jane. Whew.
Scott finished his training and I recovered from Covid. When my quarantine was up it was time to fly back to Germany. We had a fantastic trip, even if the end of it was clouded by Covid. Our family of three was finally back together for a long while and we were so excited to spend Christmas in Germany.
The first event was the squadron Christmas party, just 24 hours after our plane landed. We somehow got gussied up in our jet-lagged state and partied with our friends for the first time in months.
Jane took her first steps the night we decorated our Christmas tree which was the most precious memory. We also hosted a cookie exchange party at our place. I had so much fun that I took no photos at all.
Inspired by our friends to enjoy one final Christmas market season, we drove to Cologne and wandered the gorgeous markets throughout the city. Gluhwein just tastes different when you’re sipping it beneath twinkle lights, walking along cobblestone streets.
Christmas was our usual, much-loved routine of Christmas Eve mass, opening presents on Christmas morning, and a big dinner at Shane and Lauren’s house.
We had such a busy month that when New Year’s Eve rolled around, we rang in 2022 at home with a little wine, watching fireworks from our windows. A very peaceful ending to a tiring, wonderful year.
We had a quiet start to the year with no resolutions. Actually, that’s not true–we made a list of where we want to travel before we leave Europe. I’m heartbroken when I think of all the places we inevitably won’t get to (darn you, Covid), but I know we’re blessed to have traveled to even half the places we’ve already been.
With a see-as-much-as-possible mindset, we jumped at the chance to join our friends on a weekend trip to Prague. The city was as beautiful as I remembered and one of the highlights was an afternoon at a beer spa. (Think private hot tubs with beer on tap within arm’s reach.) Later in the month, Scott had to–you guessed it–leave for another trip.
When Scott came home from his work trip, all was well again–or, wait. Not quite. Scott’s sore throat turned out to be Covid. I escaped it this time but poor Jane didn’t. Thank the Lord it stayed mild and ran its course fairly quickly for both of them. I have to admit–once everyone was feeling better and healthy again–it was kind of nice to quarantine and hang out at home.
Luckily everyone was recovered and out of quarantine by the time our next trip came around: Porto, Portugal. I’d read on several forums that Porto is an underappreciated European destination, and it certainly did not disappoint. Nestled along the Douro River, just upstream from where the river meets the Atlantic Ocean, Porto is a charming, bustling city with the friendliest people, delightful pastries, and views that will knock your socks off. We explored the steep, winding streets, took a river cruise and sampled the local Port wine. Scott and I were not previously Port fans, but this was divine. Not too sweet, complex, and delicious.
As Jane becomes less of a baby and more of a toddler by the day, it’s a little harder to travel with someone so–ahem–opinionated, but overall, she was a champ. It helps that people are always wanting to stop and chat with her and she loves the attention.
Cheers to five years!
The year ahead of us is looking to turn out like this past one: lots of time with Scott gone but more exciting travel planned. It’s definitely the blessing and the curse of being stationed here. Work hard, play hard. Meanwhile, Jane is growing so fast and we’re loving watching her change every day.
Scott, you’re the best dad to Jane and the best husband I could ever ask for. I hate when you’re away–not because I could use another pair of hands for that cute little girl (though that certainly doesn’t hurt)–but because you’re my very best friend. Five years later, and I still love spending every minute with you. You make me laugh like no one else can, you turn even the grayest days sunny, and the simplest moment with you ends up being the time of my life. We’ve seen some amazing places this year, but my favorite spot is right next to you. I love you, sweetheart. Happy anniversary.