Friday, January 13, 2012

2 Advil PM's & Our Non-Traditional Christmas Traditions

*** Disclaimer: this is another long post, but I'm having so much fun thinking of what our family counts as our traditions and remembering the things I do every year when I go home.  Schultz Family, can I print this off as my Schultz Heritage that I didn't write this year?

It's a  little weird being up right now. To most of you who will read this first, it's the middle of the day so it won't seem that odd, but to me it's 2:09 a.m.  Brian and I are taking shifts to get through jetlag. I know I've talked about this a lot lately so forgive me if you're getting sick of hearing it.  It's just rough.

I realized two years ago, after probably our fifth round trip to/from the states, that it would be easier if I just expected not to get over jetlag until Spencer and the girls did.  It's made a world of difference this time cuz I haven't had a frustrated (well, not overly frustrated at least) feeling even though we're on Day 4.  Each day Spencer is sleeping less during the day and a little more at night.  I've had major insomnia, which you'd think would be non-existent from how tired I've been.  I've gotten about 2-4 hours of sleep each day, including the two nights before we left, and it's been rough. So, yesterday I asked Brian if we could take shifts.  I go to bed early around dinner time while he takes care of Spencer (cuz Spencer has just woken up around dinnertime) and puts him to bed. Then Brian goes to bed and sleeps in the next day. I wake up in the middle of the night when Spencer is up for the day. Does that even make sense?

Anyway, my shift started at 6:00 p.m.  I quickly & happily took 2 Advil PM's... I was not gonna have a repeat of the night before where during my given sleep time, I was awake every hour and never properly fell into a deep sleep.  If that's not one of the most aggravating things, I don't know what is. :)  I woke up just now at 1:30 a.m. and actually feel like a million bucks!  Spencer's not awake yet so I figure I'd write something. Maybe this is turning out to be my most productive time. :)

As I was lying in bed waking up out of my stupor (PS, I love Advil PM so much more than Tylenol PM), I started realizing it's already Day 4 from being home.  Being out of whack with your sleep makes the days and nights all mesh into one. It really does feel like only yesterday I walked in the door from having to say our goodbyes and venturing out for a 20 hour travel day.

It's an odd feeling coming back after 5 weeks of being gone.  Have you ever been gone that long? Some things have changed, some things haven't, and sometimes, even though it was really sad to say goodbye, all you want to do is be home.  To sit on the couch and soak it all in.

Coming home in January, after leaving in December, is kind of surreal too.  I realized that there are similar things that happen each year, and I realized they're becoming our own holiday traditions, seeing as though we can't really follow our own while being away.  We don't get a tree (because we're always leaving the first week of December) and we don't do things like read a story every night or put straw in the baby Jesus' manger for good deeds like we used to do.  We have our own traditions, and I guess you could call them non-traditional, but they're ours:

Before the Trip

-We always decorate for Christmas in November so we can enjoy the decorations long enough. I've posted pictures of our decorations throughout this post.  But they are truly of some of the decorations in my house.  (All the pictures are taken by Felicity Photography for my magazine.  Lots didn't make it cuz the lighting wasn't right, or we had too many pictures to work with.  I thought it'd be fun to use them here. I hope you don't mind, Felicity.)

A sample of some of the German traditions on my entryway bench.

We try to do Germany traditions instead of our American ones.  St. Niklaus is one of them.  It's where on December 5th night (the eve of December 6th) St. Niklaus visits each house to see if the children have left their shoes on the doorstep. He will then leave candies, nuts, fruit and always a chocolate St. Niklaus in the shoe. Some Germans actually take the old shoes and leave brand new ones.  This year because I have a friend who wrote an article for Polite Society Magazine on German traditions (since we featured Germany) told us of a few other ones, we decided to do the Adventskalendar (you light a candle each Sunday of the month of December... okay we bought it but didn't light them) and bought a pickle to put in our little tree we used to have our own Christmas (another post another time).

-I don't love German Christmas Markets, but we go to them before we leave.  They're a German staple.  It's always too cold for me, but I still love the ambience when I'm there.  I know I'm posting a lot so I'll only post a few German Market pictures and post more another time.  I'll steal them from the magazine photographers. :)  (these two photos are not us in them... just some random people that give you a feel for the markets)

-We almost always miss out on our church party (except for this last year), and all the school and community Christmas parties, Cookie Exchanges, school parties and adult get togethers.

-I always fly home with the three kids around the 7th of December. Brian always stays behind.

-He usually arrives the 3rd day before Christmas (sometimes it's not... like last year when he got stranded because Heathrow was shut down. He arrived 9:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve) and flies home with me the second week of January.

-Brian always takes care of the electronics while helping me pack up. That's just his job and I never have to worry about it.  He makes sure all of us have charged batteries, movies on our iPods (and our recently acquired iPad), chargers for our devices, computers in the bags, extra computer batteries, camera batteries and DS batteries, the navigation system with the US SIM chip, camera SIM chips, movies (ripped and in a format we can use on our iPods), etc.  You have no idea how many electronics we now take on the flights and on vacation.  And it may not seem like a lot, but it's a huge burden not having to worry about that.  I'd much rather worry about packing clothes and toiletries and finishing up mail and Christmas presents for those we're leaving behind.

-Brian always tells me not to worry about the house.  He tells me sleeping before the plane flight is more important because no matter how in advance I prepare, I'm always up really late trying to get last minute things.  He knows that I now choose not to sleep on the plane because I always get woken up by one of the kids or a flight attendant.

-He vegges for about 2 or 3 days after work and on the 4th day, he always cleans up the house spotless so when I come home I have a clean house to walk into.

While on Vacation

-We always go to Utah when we're home.  We fly to California, then make a Utah trip, even if (like this year) I didn't go, Brian did.  He absolutely loves Utah.

-The girls have like 3 Christmases when they're there.  And they always go to Utah for at least 2-3 weeks to visit their dad, one of their favorite things to do.

-The girls would rather spend more time with their Grammy and Grandpa, than me. :)

-The girls would much rather spend time with their cousins and aunts and uncles, than me and Brian and Spencer (totally fine with me. I love seeing how happy they are.  And I love that my family is just as excited to see them. They take them for days and I hardly ever see them.)

-I always sing in my parents' ward choir. When the previous director was leading it, he hit me up the first Sunday I flew in.  He always made me feel special by counting on me and being genuinely happy to see me.  My dad now leads the choir and he locked me in weeks before I even left. :) He doesn't count on me much cuz his choir is much like a smaller version of a professional choir, but it's nice to know he likes seeing me there and I like seeing all my choir friends. Truly I do.  (Dad, don't feel like you need to do anything more to make me feel good after reading this post, cuz I know mom might think she needs to guilt you into stroking me more. I really love that you love having me there.)  I also think my dad is an amazing choir director.  He was born for it and it's just something that comes naturally to him, even though he may not think so.

-The last two years I've sung in my brother Ben's church choir. Their choir is much more different than my parents and it's held in the same building.  This ward is made up of a lot of young parents and there are only about 10 people in his choir (not quite enough for there to be enough people in each section).  He got me and my sister Amber to help with the soprano section. Our really good friend Ryan leads it and I think he's really got a talent.  I was really impressed with his leading abilities. Seriously, Ryan, I was.  It was quite funny because both Ben and Ryan recruited my whole family (including my parents and  Ryan's inlaws who are both in the other ward choir) to come to his ward choir.  It was like a professional choir.  And when we all sung for the Stake Choir Concert, there were a few chuckles by audience members seeing so many familiar faces in both choirs. :) It was so much fun though and some great memories.

-I always visit Nanette's B&B.  Her house is so amazing to stay at.  She's the most awesome host, makes the most amazing food, shows you amazing epiphanies she's had you want to become a better person, and makes you feel totally at home, but doesn't make you feel like you are getting in the way with her daily life. You sort of just join in with her goings-on (you actually become a part of it... she has you come to her block party craft days, school singalongs, and drives around to see their Christmas lights).  She also tries to help you get stuff crossed off your "list", gives you coupons for buying presents, and on top of that plans extra fun outings. I might get stressed out with hosting like she does, but if she is, she never lets on. I love her kids with all my heart and I love hanging out with her husband Myles cuz he's seriously a cool cat and so laid back... yet such a task accomplisher as well.

-Brian always gets sick.

-I never get enough sleep (except like this year when he took the kids to Utah and I was in California by myself.  Glory Hallelujah).

-I'm always stressed and up too late the night before Christmas wrapping gifts and finishing projects, no matter how prepared I am.

-I never stay up for New Year's (except the year I helped with Sam's Newphoria party, or my dad's Rose Parade parties), and I like it that way (see "never get enough sleep comment above"!)

Coming Home

-I always come home to Christmas decorations still up. It's January, and there is our house... still decorated for Christmas.  I love it.  I never take it down for at least a week after we get home. These pictures were taken for the magazine, so that's why there are only 2 stockings. the other 3 didn't match.

 -I always walk into a clean house.  While we're away, Brian always logs in a ton of time at work and watches movie marathons... because when we're home he values the family so much that he gives up what he loves doing.  (and yes, logging in hours playing on computers is something he loves too).

-Getting the mail at our PO Box is like Christmas all over again. There are like 200 Christmas cards to open (who cares about the stack of bills and mailers, right?), a plethora of magazines that have been stacking up for months (cuz they don't always deliver them right away, they come in I think quarterly batches) and yellow cards for notices for packages that have stacked up too!  Mail is one of my most favorite things in the world.

-And when I walk in the door, there is always a huge new project Brian has taken on to surprise me.  He did this even before we moved to Germany. The first year we were married I went home in October (after being married in August).  For the 10 days I was gone, he had taken the stucco off the sealing and re-plastered it, painted four of the rooms really cool colors (cuz he hates white walls), including our living room that has 12 foot ceilings, fixed things that needed to be fixed and built us computer desks. I know there's more, I just wish I could think of them.  He's done things like painted the outside of our Sierra Vista house and bordered the windows with white wood.  Redone the backyard.  Replaced the entire kitchen sink.  You get the idea, right?

-This trip I came home to a completely rearranged front room (I know the picture is bad and doesn't look like much but he moved everything 90 degrees, unmounted everything, including the TV and hooked everything up, moved the piano to a different spot.  I know it sounds weird, but it really was a new homey feeling and I love it!

-He also built a brand new train table for Spencer to play on.  It's not one you buy.  He got the wood, cut it, measured it, screwed it together, rounded corners so it fits perfectly next to the fireplace, painted it, etc.  Spencer's love for trains outgrew any table we had for him and I was frustrated having to walk over, under and around train pieces all over the floor.  You have no idea how amazing this was and the more I look at this table the more floored I am at the work that went into this, especially because he was working 14 hour days at the office.

-I've never come to expect it because I don't want it to become an expectation. Hopefully by documenting it it hasn't become that either.

So... there are my thoughts this early in the morning. It's now 5:21 a.m. It really didn't take me that long to make this post, but not only was I having fun finding pictures again for it, but I am the major culprit of ADD and getting sidetracked.  Facebooking, Youtube, reading other blogs, making my Christmas card address list, emailing people back, etc.  Do you ever get that?  Spencer's now up and I'm going to post this baby.


Randi said...

We have a similar thing going on in our family. We have only had 1 Christmas tree in the 5 years we have lived in AZ because we always go home. This year we didn't even decorate because the girls and I left on vacation in the beginning of November. 2 months of vacation felt more like a move!

I love the German traditions that you mentioned! My mom always hides a pickle in our tree. I have an advent calendar that my host mom made for me when I lived in Germany. Now I fill it up for Brenna. We have never done the shoes, but I have had it in the back of my mind for when she is older.

I seriously cant believe that train table! That thing is so amazing that I want one.

I am loving these posts. It gives me something to read at night!

Nan said...

I felt like whenever I had a question you'd answer it. What did he do to the house this year? Why did it take so long to write that entry? ha ha- then the next line you'd answer me. Great post. Thanks for the shout out. It was really fun having you for so long. I loved bonding with Spencer. Can't believe Spencer's train table!! That is amazing.

brittany ann said...

Holy moly! The living room looks AMAZING! Brian, you rock. And that train table?! I bet Spencer had a fit (of excitement) when he saw it! What a wonderful thing to come home to.

Stephanie said...

Christy, I kind of feel like our lives joined more after you joined instagram and I started blogging. Its like we have things to talk about! I love this! I have always wanted to see your life in Germany (How I didn't know until recently that you had a blog is beyond me). I just love seeing your goings on! It is so fun. I had no idea how talented and handy Brian is... that is soo great! And he is sooooo talented. That train table is awesome!

Also, at my dad's house it was always a tradition to have us kids put our shoes by the fireplace for St. Niklaus put candy in our shoes. I love that you're doing that! I love that memory from my childhood. It was a taste of christmas before christmas.

Also, I want to be nanette when I grow up. Seriously, she sounds like the perfect person to visit. I NEED HER SECRETS!

Thanks for this great post with lots of fun pictures. I loved every minute of this entry!