A Letter To My Daughter

This morning, my DH (Dear Husband) encouraged me to write a post about Emma – not about a baby-related topic or any other topic but share my feelings about Emma and being her Mama.

Emma is back down for her late morning nap and instead of doing laundry, vacuuming or trimming the Hydrangea on our porch, I am taking a moment to write this post in honor of Emma’s upcoming half birthday.

Dearest Emma,

When I first touched you, and you crawled up to my breast, we both knew we’d be bound together forever. Something intensely awesome had just happened. A miracle. You were born. My little girl. My daughter.

It’s been almost six months since you’ve joined our little family. Which means, it’s been 174 days since we’ve brought you home from the hospital. In other words, I’ve been without proper sleep for 173 nights. No offense but it’s been torture tough.

The first few weeks of our life together, I was so worried about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g: Whether you got enough sleep, enough milk, enough love. Whether you would get sick, gain enough weight. Whether you were too cold, not comfortable enough. Whether we changed your diaper often enough making sure you wouldn’t get a diaper rash. Whether I would be a good mom, Paul a good dad and Griffin a fun companion.

Yes, your Mama is a worry wart. No matter how much I pray and try to rely on God to lift those burdens off my shoulders, I just can’t help it.

But you know the reason for my worries? I love you so very much that I can’t stand the thought of anything bad happen to you. Truth is, bad things will happen to you. You will get a flu eventually, you will fall and scrape your knees, friends will hurt you, your parents will disappoint you. That’s life.

But, the truth is that there’s a Father looking out for you. By that I don’t mean your dad. He will, of course, protect you as much as he can. No, I’m talking about your Heavenly Father. The one who is watching over you, me, Papa, Omi, your aunt Meike, your cousin Lasse, even our dog. God says, ” I have come into the world as light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” ~ John 12:46. I guess, we should be faithful and let Him deal with our dark fears.

Yet, this lack of sleep is really getting to me. I know you’re not doing this on purpose. I know you love me. I can feel it. When you wake up in the morning and you look at me – that big smile on your face is priceless. You’re such a happy and positive baby. Seeing your personality develop is one of your parents’ greatest blessings. We can already tell that you’re so bold and strong-willed, your persistence and ambition amaze us every day.

With only 12 weeks of age, you learned how to grab and hold on to things. Quickly, you’ve figured out how to rake things towards you, pick them up and play with them.

When you learned how to roll over, it seemed like a whole new world has opened up to you. Wait until you’ll work out this crawling thing. Sometimes you already push yourself up and lift your buttocks into the air and I think to myself ‘oh my, she’s gonna crawl soon’.

You’ve gotten pretty good at this sitting up stuff. Funny enough, you seem to be sitting better by yourself than with support. (I’m still gonna put those pillows around you. You can complain all you want.)

"Excuse me! I can feed myself!"

During the day, I find myself watching you play on your blanket, happily cooing and finding simple joy in all of your toys. Recently, you discovered Griffin. I swear, you are talking to Griffin. When you see him near you, your tiny hands try to pet him, you’re flashing your brightest smile (which I so frickin’ love!) and when you manage to touch him you make this squeaky noise that you always make when you’re excited.

I have been walking with you strapped to my body in the Ergo, my neck, shoulders and back aching yet not minding the discomfort at all if only it brought you comfort.

I love rubbing my nose on your cheeks and covering your soft skin with kisses. You scream joyfully every time I do the raspberry on your belly during diaper changes. On that note, could you stop kicking so much while I try to clean your butt?

You’re kicking a lot in general. Especially during bath time. It’s hard to believe that your first few baths were torture according to your feedback, ie. crying from the top of your lungs. You hated it. These days, you can’t seem to get enough splash time, you little dolphin. What fun it will be to teach you how to swim!

When we go grocery shopping together, you always talk up a storm. Apparently, other people also find you quite entertaining. You’re a social butterfly. Whether you show complete strangers in the elevator your brightest smile or you hang out with your girlfriends Scarlett and Eva and your big buddy Jonah, you love other people.

Emma and one of her BFFs.

Oh, you just woke up. I can hear you talk to your dolphin. You sound so happy and content. I bet you’re trying to eat your feet again.

I am very blessed. And so are you, my dear daughter. Papa is working really hard to allow me to stay home with you so I can raise you, teach you, love on you. Paul and me both were raised by nannies (me) and in daycare (daddy). We always missed our parents and we wanted something better for you while you were so little.

Speaking of something better, I need to apologize to you. The other day, after another sleepless night, I lost my patience and yelled at you. I had been trying to put you down for your nap over and over again. You were so tired, showing all signs of sleepiness but you just wouldn’t want to fall asleep. Dang it, girl. Why do you always fight me on this?

Emma, you are such an adorable, smart, funny and cuddly little baby. Within seconds you took over my life and despite all the fear of failure, I love every second of being your mom. (Ok, maybe not those when you and I fight over sleepy time.)

Ich liebe dich!

Home Is Where The Heart Is :: My Life Abroad

(This post is dedicated to my Mama, my sister Meike, my Oma and my faithful friends Philipp, Mobbel, Anabel, Diana, Wiebke & Wiebke and Antje.)

The Germans have a wonderful word to describe “home” or the “feeling of home”. It’s called “Heimat”.

Heimat is a German word that has no simple English translation. It is often expressed with terms such as home or homeland, but these English counterparts fail to encapsulate the true meaning of the word.

“Heimat” is a German concept. People are bound to their ‘heimat’ by their birth, their childhood, their language and their earliest experiences.
Source: Wikipedia


My recent trip ‘back home’ to Germany brought up this question again: What is my ‘Heimat’? Is it my new home – the United States of America? Or my home country – Germany?

After over 5 years of living abroad, miles away from family, friends and childhood memories, I can finally say that my ‘Heimat’ is…America.

During our last trip to Germany, I actually got home sick. As in, I missed America. In all its glory and imperfection. That was a first. Don’t get me wrong, I still love and dearly miss my family and the few remaining, faithful friends I have in my home country but I can now say that my new ‘Heimat’ is the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

"What do we leave behind?" from the exhibition at the Emigration Museum Hamburg.

‘Heimat’ is not only a place, ‘Heimat’ is simply the place where one feels home. But what creates that feeling? Even after all these years living in a foreign country, I have these moments where I get really excited about my immigrant life. I call them my ‘America moments’. I stand still for a second and remind myself of my journey and all those who supported it. I look around and think about how my life has changed. I smile. I have come so far (literally) and have accomplished so much (with the help of many).

So I guess the feeling of ‘achievement’ plays a big role. And then there’s the change in me which plays an even bigger role. In Germany, I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted, where I should go. I was depressed, angry and felt empty. In England where I lived for almost two years, I remained restless and searching for something better. In America, I found Jesus and therefore answers to all those questions. I’ve become a new person and left the old Wiebke behind – at least the bad stuff, the junk, the baggage. That void inside of me was finally filled.

Thesaurus offers another word for ‘achievement’ – arrival.

Maybe that’s what makes me love America so much? Maybe it’s not only about friends, family or things? Maybe it’s more about the change in me and the peace I’ve found? Maybe I have finally arrived?

But then, if ‘Heimat’ is all about feelings, emotions, peace, then this all makes perfect sense. Doesn’t it?

Master Of Ceremony :: Our Wedding

I do!

Forget Cinco de Mayo, it’s the Thrasher Wedding Anniversary. Four years of married bliss. I snatched a hardworking, humble, hot ‘n’ handsome husband, we adopted a lovely mutt, multiplied and gave birth to a stinkin’ cute baby. To this day – and beyond – we are dreaming big of a fantastic future as we grow and nurture our little family.

But this post is not about us. This post is dedicated to a good friend and the best master of ceremony a bride can ask for. (I’m not mentioning the groom because he didn’t even know what a master of ceremony does, yet alone why we would need one.)

Li, this is for you:

Today, Paul and I are celebrating the 4th return of our wedding day.
This occasion prompts me to shout a Thank You your way.
As I remember the day, Paul and I began our life.
As husband and wife.

You were the master of ceremony.
The guardian angel of our vows of matrimony.
The man.
With the master plan.

Getting ready, Paul suddenly discovered his pants were too long.
With a stapler you did a better job than tailors in Hong Kong.
Helping him fix his tie.
Without a sigh.

Without you Paul would probably still be standing in the sand.
Waiting for me and my mother to give him my hand.
Guests would still be looking for their seat.
With nothing to eat.

Sensing the danger of having no songs to move our feet.
You quickly assigned Neil to be in charge of the beat.
What a moving speech.
You gave on the beach.

Thank you again for diverting every disaster.
While being the best ceremony’s master.
As we remember our ‘I Do’.
We cheer to you.

Love,

The Thrashers

 

Family Photo Shoot

Whitney, the Betty of Paco and Betty Photography did it again! Check out the absolutely amazing results of our family photo shoot. We ended up with hundreds of beautiful, fun, emotional and cute images but I’m just posting a few to show off our wonderful little family.

Next time, you come and visit us, you may find canvas prints of these photos all over our house. Are proud? Not at all. Ok, maybe a little bit.

Lounging in her crib.

Love this one.

Our little Kojak baby.

Emma couldn't be bothered.

Our furry baby.

She looks so cute in yellow.

No words can describe how much I love my daughter!

My favorite!

Grandma knitted this beautiful blanket. Love the look on Emma's face!

'Toechterchen' means 'little daughter' in German. My sis gave Emma this onesie. It's my favorite!

Emma got tired and is about to...

...have enough!

I Am A Mother

I have a daughter.

I am a mother.

We're home.

These words still sound so surreal to me. Even though our baby girl has now been with us for several days and I’m slowly recovering from the aftermaths of giving birth, I still don’t grasp the magnitude that motherhood means.

Paul and I can barely find words to describe how we feel, how grateful we are for her health, and what we experience with our little Emma. We mostly just want to hold and stare at her. Like right now, as she is sleeping in her bassinet next to my bed. (Yeah, after another sleepless night she decided that the morning would be a better time to go to sleep! Wonder where she has that stubbornness from…)

Emma, Paul and I are enjoying getting to know each other and finding our rhythm. Needless to say, our lives are turned upside down, nights have turned into wake time, day time has become a small window to catch a break, we forget when it’s time to eat, drink or take a shower, and nothing is like it was before. And we’re loving every bit of it!

We are no longer just a couple…

Adjusting to parenthood surely is quite a challenge – but an absolutely amazing one! There is so much for Paul and me to learn (read about my first key learnings about being a new mom here), try and, more importantly, let go off. That letting go part (what do you mean, they don’t sleep on YOUR schedule?) is my biggest challenge. As you know, I am a planner and love being in control. Well, none of that anymore. Dear God, please take over from here. Thank you very much!

It certainly is a blessing to have Paul’s mom Sharon stay with us. She has been incredibly helpful taking care of Paul and me while we’re taking care of Emma. And when my hormones are going crazy again and I can’t stop crying because I wonder if I’m ever gonna get this mother thing down, she is right there to tell me I’m doing just fine. She reminds me to take my meds, cooks dinner, fills the fridge, cleans, takes Emma every now and then so Paul and I can shower and makes sure life is a little less insane.

A huge thanks also to Griffin’s best friend Yuko who is currently looking after our furry baby to give us a bit more time before we introduce Emma to him.

But now, please admire my baby girl and tell me what a beauty she is!

Where did she get those pouty lips from?

Two became Three.

Proud Papa Paul.

Love,
-Wiebke, Paul & Emma

Thank You For Being A Friend :: Relationships

Friends. Girlfriends. Sisters. Nothing in life goes without them.

Every woman needs her Golden Girls.

As I was chatting with one of my dear girlfriends this morning, I felt inspired to write a post about the amazing women who travel alongside me on this journey called life and why true friendships are so important.

When I left my friends (and family) to move to the other end of the world, I was scared and afraid that I would never have ‘best friends’ again. I was expecting to find a couple of acquaintances and possibly a few slightly superficial, friendly connections. Little did I know that God had taken His project to provide a home for me in San Francisco very seriously: I wasn’t just blessed with a job, means to enjoy this amazing city, a lovely apartment and delicious food. I also found the best friends in the world!

From Wikipedia:

Value that is found in friendships is often the result of a friend demonstrating the following on a consistent basis:

  • The tendency to desire what is best for the other
  • Sympathy and empathy
  • Honesty, perhaps in situations where it may be difficult for others to speak the truth, especially in terms of pointing out the perceived faults of one’s counterpart
  • Mutual understanding and compassion
  • Trust in one another (able to express feelings – including in relation to the other’s actions – without the fear of being judged); able to go to each other for emotional support
  • Positive reciprocity – a relationship is based on equal give and take between the two parties.

or as the apostle Paul writes in his letters:

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~Corinthians 13:4-6, New King James’ Version

Speaking of Paul: When I first came to visit this church Paul (my husband, not the apostle) was going to, I was swept off my feet by the warm welcome I received. At first it felt a bit overwhelming and I was skeptical that these girls were truly interested in me and my story. But the more I let them into my life, the more they shared about theirs. And I was quick to realize that I’ve met some of the most genuine, generous and loving women whose desire is to protect and encourage you to grow, develop, thrive, be successful and have loads of fun and ridiculous-ness.

Of course, there are struggles, arguments, maybe even fights, certainly a few white lies here and there (I’m not gonna lie!), and a healthy amount of gossip. I get mad at them, they get mad at me, we all get disappointed, feel rejected, sometimes hurt. Hey, we are human. And women. Not saints.

Women often guard themselves too much because they are wounded and afraid to open up and get hurt again. There’s jealousy, envy, the fear of rejection, competition and mostly, it’s because we nurture lies in our minds about what others think about us or what we think they think about us (did I lose you here?). But none of those thoughts have anything to do with the truth. And the truth is that your girlfriends love you for who you are. Period.

ENVY is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has. ~Elizabeth O’Connor

By the way, a true friend would tell you that a hair do like this looks hideous.

Whatever the struggle, whatever the cause for disagreement (sounds nicer than argument, doesn’t it?), I can say this with the utmost sincerity, my girlfriends have their hearts in the right place and forgiveness, love and respect are not just empty words but values for them.

Are we hot or what?

While most of my leading ladies are part of my church family, I met other wonderful, honest, trustworthy, fun, inspiring, caring and smart women on my way. I believe that we need many ‘best’ friends, not just one: there are those who are best at encouraging, some are best at listening, some are best at giving spiritual advice, some better at giving mommy advice, there are friends who are the best at inspiring you. See, what I mean?

Image by Carina Olsen

I’ve recently stumbled across a blog post about Cotton Candy friends – a term associated with the Facebook generation where it’s ‘totally awesome’ to have, like, um, a thousand friends or so. Well, we know that the social network friend is not helping us flourish yet alone heal when we get hurt. We may know what they had for breakfast, what their favorite local bar is, and where they went on their honeymoon. But, we miss knowing what they are afraid of, why they worry at night, and if they are really happy right now.

Now, go ahead and call that girlfriend of yours, make time to meet up for a cup of coffee, put gift shopping aside if it leaves you less time to spend with friends, or write a quick note to one of your besties letting her know how much you love having her in your life. Add a genuine compliment and tell her what you love about her, and you may have just made a huge difference in somebody’s life. Who knows?!

Picture Perfect :: My Pregnancy

No matter how uncomfortable or fat (yes, I said it) you feel during your pregnancy, I want to encourage you to push all insecurities aside and take as many photos as possible of your beautiful, growing belly.

I have to admit that it took me a couple of months until I felt pretty (enough) to have my picture taken. While my belly still seems kinda small-ish (compared to other 7 1/2 months preggos), my boobs and butt have significantly expanded their territory and my face definitely got chubbier.

Nonetheless, when our friends Whitney and Marcellos of Paco and Betty Photography suggested to arrange a maternity photo shoot with Paul and me, I certainly didn’t have to think twice. You may have stumbled upon Paco and Betty’s absolutely amazing wedding photography on one of the many popular wedding blogs. If not, well, they are geniuses. Their work is beyond beautiful and I’m constantly searching for words to describe their talent. Whitney (Betty) is not only gifted with her camera, she also has the skill to make you feel comfortable, pretty and enjoy every second of your shoot. So important when you think you are as big as a hot air balloon.

But as they say, pictures say more than a thousand words. So, I’m gonna shut up and let the (teaser) images speak…

Shot in Potrero Hill.

The weather was perfect.

We can’t wait for the rest of the photos…