This year, like every past year has been amazing. My family and I are closing out our second year living in Germany and it has been everything we wanted and more. I decided to write this post to basically sum up what we have been up to all year. Buckle up for a long one! •Lawd, These kids!• This year Makenzie turned 3 and her personality turned 13. In October Makenzie had her 1 year anniversary of German Kindi. We are told she speaks very good German, even though she won’t speak it around us (even if I speak German to her). We are still so proud of her for having a great year out of her element. Now back to this 13yo personality. The sass and snappy comebacks are in full throttle mode. Ironically, I am seeing so much of myself in her. Her desire for control, inquisitiveness, and need to know what is going on at all times is straight from my gene pool. It’s both great and frustrating at the same time. Figuring out how to deal with a carbon copy of myself is harder than I ever thought. Of course, she’s got elements of her father in her personality as well, such as that eyebrow look in the upper right corner photo. I don’t think that look is going anywhere any time soon. Just pray for us as we learn the ins and outs of loving and raising this beautiful child. Brayden aka Chunker turned 1 in May of this year. All he does is eat and eat again, after her eats. His nickname is not chunker just because it sounds cute haha. He’s learning to talk more and more each day and pretty much repeats everything you say. Teething has hit him hard these past few months and he has been wearing us out! Yet, he’s still just so happy and darn cute! In case you’re wondering, he still hasn’t had his first haircut. It’s going to be a tough day when we take him to chop down those golden brown curls. It will be a while before that happens. Overall, raising and frequently traveling with two kids has been a tough, yet exciting journey. I can testify that nothing brings you closer to God than having kids. I’ve never prayed so much my whole life haha. •Til Death Do Us Part• As you can see from the “best nine” photo, clearly my husband was a huge part of what this app algorithm deems as my best moments this year. I must admit, there are no lies there. Vic and I just celebrated 5 years of marriage. This year was a great and fun year for us. In this photo you see us all dressed up attending a couple of formal military events. The bottom right photo is from a date night in Barcelona. The bottom left is from another date night. Yes, we make an effort to keep up with date nights. I must say, I think it is ironic that our best nine collage features no one outside our family. You would think we do not have friends LOL. I can’t lie, it is true that we do not have a ton of friends. However, the more important fact this photo made me realize is that at the end of the day, my husband and I must maintain a strong relationship and foundation for our family. Being in the military, people come and go. Yes you make friends along the way, but you never get to do life with the same people, in the same location, for more than 2-3 years at a time. It is so hard to make and maintain friendships with this “always moving” life we have. My only constant friend (in terms of location) is truly my husband. He is my permanent friend and I love that! •Never Stop Exploring• As you know, living in Germany has afforded us the opportunity to travel to some awesome places in Europe. I have never actually done a country count, but just this year we have visited many awesome places. In January Vic and I took our first kid-free trip to Vienna Austria for a military ball. We are looking forward to attending this same ball again in a couple weeks. This time we decided to fly my mom over to stay with the kids. That’s a win-win situation for all involved! Throughout the rest of 2018 we traveled to the Netherlands (Amsterdam & Den Haag). We also visited Milan, Prague and Garmisch (Germany) again. We took a road trip through France, which wasn’t without incident. During that trip Vic accidentally put Diesel in the tank of our rental car and we had to get the car towed to get the fuel system drained. That full story is a whole other post. Continuing with trip highlights, my youngest sister and her family visited in September during my Birthday week. We did a crazy overnight trip to Paris. We made it to see all the popular sites and exhausted ourselves to the max. Right after Christmas my mom and Aunt came back for their second visit to Germany. During this visit we introduced them to the Christmas market scene and then we took a trip to beautiful Barcelona. To finish off the year, we enjoyed a wonderful stay in an amazing Kinder hotel in Austria. I have written about these hotels in an earlier blog post. The kinder hotel concept is bar none! With activities on-site for both adults and kinds, all-inclusive meal plans, and childcare, you really can’t ask for more in a vacation. We never actually do anything to celebrate the New Year, because…. Kiddie bedtime. However, this trip was planned in effort to change that. Tonight we will celebrate like never before, while the kids are snoring away in our two-bedroom hotel apartment. Can you say winning!!!! I cannot fail to mention that I had the opportunity to enjoy not 1, but 3 girls’ trips this year! At the beginning of the year I visited Belgium (Brussels and Ghent) with a good girlfriend I met in Stuttgart. In May I visited Amsterdam again to meet up with my old roomie from undergrad. Then, just this past November, I traveled to Porto, Portugal with 4 other girlfriends. Each of these trip was so timely and just what I needed! It is so refreshing to be “off duty” for a bit and actually do adult things and have adult conversation without being interrupted by a stinky diaper! •Personal Fulfillment• Not working outside the home is tough. I like working and miss tackling the challenges of having a career. I had been looking for ways to keep my brain working and in all honesty I needed an outlet to feel like I was contributing to the world in a way other than motherhood and wifehood. In April, I said yes to leadership and became a Co-Coordinator for a MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) group on base here in Stuttgart. My girlfriend who I went to Belgium with is the other Co-Coordinator (love her to pieces!!). This role has been so rewarding! We have a phenomenal group of 45+ women who attend our bi-weekly meetings. We brunch, share experiences and advice, laugh, pray and cry together. It is such an honor to serve amongst such amazing women, who just happen to share in the same struggle of raising preschoolers. Personally, it is a great feeling being able to be part of something that helps so many women through such a challenging phase. Though the role of Co-coordinator is exhausting, at times, it is well worth it! It checks all the boxes for a void I had in my life and I couldn’t be happier to be in this role. •What’s Next• In February 2019 we should find out where we will do life for the next 3 years. If you know me, you know that I want to stay in Germany sooo bad! It is a possibility, but ultimately the Army makes that final decision. Once we get an answer, we will inform you all. Until then, just know that we will be here in Germany making the best of the known time we have left here! Some (key word) of you are even welcome to come visit to and enjoy it with us! Haha Thank you for reading up on our year. I pray that you have a blessed New Year!