Schönbrunn Easter Market 2014

20140424-145912.jpgThe Easter markets in Vienna are not nearly so plentiful as the Christmas markets.  I only know of 2 — the one near our house at the Freyung, and the bigger one at Schönbrunn.  We try to make it to both every year.  The Freyung market is quieter and very charming, and the focus is on the massive display of decorated eggs.  Schönbrunn is much bigger and has much more of a party feel, plus many, many busloads of tourists.  There’s a lot more food and a lot more to do at Schönbrunn (especially for kids), which makes it an easier place for a longer visit.

We didn’t make it out there this year until the day before Easter, and it was, predictably, a bit of a zoo.  But we had a great time.  The boys played quite a few games (like tabletop hockey . . . with chickens) and participated in some fun activities (walking on stilts), we all ate a little lunch, I visited the shop stall of my favorite Austrian folk artist, Lisl (who remembers me every time) and we all enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at the market.  (By contrast, last year it was rainy and cold the day we went to the Schönbrunn market, but still lots of fun.)

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It was fun and festive, and good times were had all around.  It was a fun way to spend part of Easter weekend, and to enjoy a little of early spring in Vienna.

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B even took on an adult in chicken hockey

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All in a day’s work

As I’ve expressed before, I usually don’t feel like I have things very much together.  I often feel like I’m just barely managing the frenetic and delicate choreography of life with kids, and I think I’m usually the least likely mom to pull off something difficult with grace and ease.  Which makes it all the more impressive when I actually manage to.

Easter in Austria always means a long weekend for us.  Dan gets Good Friday and Easter Monday off of work (the latter is also a school holiday) so we get a four day weekend to color eggs, be festive for Easter and enjoy spring.  Our plans for last Friday were to color eggs and to finish up the few last-minute Easter preparations still to be taken care of.  I hadn’t been able to find the egg dye we’d used so successfully last year, but I found another type.  For this kind, the eggs needed to still be warm from boiling while being dyed, so Friday morning I set about boiling 20 eggs while Dan took the boys out to the courtyard downstairs to run off some steam.  (We figured they’d do better at not having egg-dyeing meltdowns if they weren’t too keyed up.)

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The egg dye I was able to find this year

All was well, and the water was just about to boil, when Dan came in with both boys amidst a bunch of commotion.  Liam was very upset, as was Benjamin.  It turns out that while outside playing, Liam had managed to put a rock up his nose, and he was (understandably) not happy that it was not as easy to get out as it had been to get in.

Even after 5 1/2 years as parents, this was our first something-in-the-nose experience.  Dan assured me he had things under control as I attempted to figure out whether to try and save the eggs or to ditch them and take over with Liam.  I called out advice from the kitchen while Dan came up with a series of ideas about how to remove the rock.  (My main advice was, “I think he needs to see the doctor”, while Dan was sure he could address the problem at home.)  I left the eggs on the stove, set a timer, and tried to help . . . mostly at first by reiterating that I thought it was time for a professional.  Our regular pediatrician is (of course) out of town, but after a few minutes I persuaded Dan to call the backup doctor, just to find out what she suggested.  No answer.  I vetoed Dan’s ideas of using tweezers to remove it (sticking something ELSE in his nose did not seem like the solution to me) and I was on the verge of making a command decision that it was time for a trip to the ER when we decided to settle our debate the modern way . . . with the internet!

Liam's nose rock and a coin for perspective (a 2 cent Euro coin is about the size of a US penny)

Liam’s nose rock and a coin for perspective (a 2 cent Euro coin is about the size of a US penny)

We looked up how to remove a rock from a child’s nose and found this.  (Don’t read it if you’ll be bothered by being a little grossed out.)  We decided that we would try it, and if it failed, we would take the trip to the hospital.  So, although Liam was NOT into the idea, we held him down, and I . . . fixed the problem.  It actually worked!  Liam was a bit shaken from the whole experience, but otherwise completely well, and with a good life lesson learned.  I gave him a big snuggle and reassured him that he would be fine.  He recovered quickly, and went right back to playing.  (When I looked up the link, I was looking at my phone, so I didn’t see the suggestion of actually performing the procedure AT the hospital.  I’m really glad everything turned out ok.)

And I got back to the eggs before the timer went off.

I have to say that I kind of felt like a kickass mom.  Rock taken out of the nose and eggs boiled for dyeing, all at the same time.  We went on to have a fun and festive Friday, everyone was well, and I pretty much felt like I saved the day.

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Freyung Easter Market . . . yet again

167The Freyung Easter market holds a very special place in our hearts.  Not only was it our first holiday market experience when we moved to Vienna, but it ended up being literally across the street from our home here, but we had no way of knowing that it would be the first time we visited it.  I love the Easter markets and the Christmas markets in Vienna.  I love how festive and fun they are, the feeling of neighborhood and community, the yummy treats and the sights, sounds and smells.  I’ve been completely won over by the whole experience.

We have learned, however, that for the kids, it’s not always as much fun as it seems like it should be.  There’s a lot 179to see, but so much that they aren’t allowed to touch.  There are lots of snacks and treats, but even though we try to say yes when we can, they end up hearing “no” a lot.  It’s usually pretty crowded, so they can’t run off and be free.  It’s fun for them, but not for as long as it’s fun for us.  We’ve learned that trips with the kids need to be short and sweet, and that if we adults want to go back and browse, we need to do it another time.

We made a quick family trip to the Freyung Easter market the weekend before Easter.  We looked at the amazing displays of painted, carved and beaded eggs (real eggs!), listened to some live 022music, visited the bunnies (Benjamin has decided that the black and white one IS the Easter Bunny) and ate some roasted almonds.  It was a short trip, but a fun one.  Visiting the Freyung Easter market truly feels like a celebration not just of spring and of Easter, but also of our Vienna anniversary.  I made another trip back later in the week to do some more thorough shopping, but we had a great time, all of us, just stopping by for a quick visit.

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My “reverse expat bucket list”

Living abroad, I am very aware of my limitations.  I am reminded, constantly, of how poorly I speak the language and how unfamiliar I am with the customs here.  Every day I have thoughts of how I wish I were doing better, learning faster and moving through the world more easily.  I think it’s perfectly understandable that I so often focus on my challenges and shortcomings, because I see them all the time.

It’s easy to overlook how much I’ve accomplished, how far I’ve come, and how many things that I’ve done and seen.  Amanda at Expat Life with a Double Buggy is hosting a blog link up today, encouraging expats to celebrate what we have already done and accomplished in our adventures.  So, here is my “reverse bucket list” — I’m taking a moment to celebrate what I’ve done so far.

In the past 3 years, I have:

  • Travelled to England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Vatican City and Germany
  • Survived 3 round trip transatlantic flights with preschool aged kids (and never even had anything thrown at me … by anyone other than my kids)
  • Been sledding in the Alps
  • Visited the highest point in Germany
  • Took the overnight train to Italy
  • Eaten pasta and gelato in Italy, baguettes and macaroons in France, and fish & chips and shepherd’s pie in England
  • Visited some astoundingly beautiful places in Austria139
  • Seen a mountain goat in its natural habitat
  • Visited at least 4 different castles
  • Been to a ball at a palace (twice!)
  • Seen a couple of glaciers
  • Shopped for groceries … and didn’t hold up the checkout line
  • Learned a bit about Austrian history
  • Learned a bit of German
  • Renewed my (expired) passport
  • Completed entire shopping transactions entirely in German
  • Got to know the Krampus
  • Swum in both sides of the Atlantic
  • Become pretty much an expert on traveling with kids — either across town or between continents
  • Written over 900 blog posts
  • Been in several of the grandest cathedrals in Europe
  • Learned to love Lanternenfest1072
  • Had a flying lesson
  • Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Ridden in a gondola
  • Been to at least 7 different museums in 4 different countries
  • Made new friends, including actual Austrian friends
  • Become a connoisseur of Austrian Christmas markets
  • Saw Shakespeare performed in England
  • Learned to let go of being a perfectionist (more or less) and become much more flexible
  • Let go of judgement (of myself and others)
  • Turned over a new leaf in terms of my health

When I write it down like that, it DOES seem something to be proud of (especially since I’ve probably forgotten to include many things). These past 3 years have been a remarkable adventure. I’ve seen and done things I didn’t expect I ever would, and I’ve become a different person in small but important ways. Whatever the future holds for me, these experiences will never leave me, and I hope they serve to inspire many further adventures.

Expat Life with a Double Buggy

Taxes abroad

It’s that time of year again, when, with a flurry of paperwork and many cups of coffee, I (and many others) sit down to tackle the family taxes.  It’s not a task I love, but really, we have a pretty good situation here, so I can’t complain.  In fact, we’re amazingly lucky when it comes to our tax bill.  Because we’re US citizens and (I think?) because the IAEA and the UN have a special situation worked out with Austria, we pay US taxes, but not Austrian taxes.  AND, we’re exempt from large chunks of our typical US tax bill because we’re not living IN the States.  In short, we pay a fractional part of our US tax bill while enjoying so much of what the high tax bills of Austria pay for.  It’s a fantastic deal.  We get all the free preschool and clean streets we can handle, and we don’t have to pay for it.  (Of course, there are things back at home that we’re paying for but not using, but still, we’re on the winning end of this deal from a tax perspective, no question.)

But although the pain of actually PAYING our tax bill is seriously mitigated by our situation, the relative pain of FILING our taxes is generally greater here than in the States.  Not only do I have to check a remarkable number of the “this situation is not common” boxes on Turbo Tax, but there’s no handy H&R Block or anything similar down the street that I could go to for safety’s sake.  Luckily, since we sold our house in the US during our first year here, the situation is somewhat simpler than it used to be.  Still, it’s pretty darn complicated, and there are tons of paperwork and lots of calculations to be put together each year.  (Plus I have to keep track of which numbers are in Euros and which are in dollars, and if anything ends up messing me up, that’s going to be the thing.)

Fine, though.  That’s life as an American, at home or abroad.  As April 15 approaches, we panic a little, dust off our calculators and start scribbling numbers down on a little scraps of paper that will soon find a home in a shoebox.  That’s what I was doing this morning, when I realized that I’m probably not going to be done by tomorrow, thus missing the deadline.  Except, that as a US citizen living abroad, I get an automatic extension to file until June.  And I *just* found out, just today (this is the 3rd year I’ve filed while living abroad, and I’m just figuring this out) that we *also* don’t have to PAY until June 15.  No kidding.  (I thought the automatic extension was just like a regular extension, where you get extra time to file but the money is still due on April 15.  Nope.  If you’ve overseas, you don’t even have to pay until June, with no penalty.)

So, instead of spending the next 36 hours panicking about getting my taxes paid, I get to relax and get them done in a leisurely fashion between now and June.  Except that what will REALLY happen is that I’ll put it off, I won’t get it done, and on June 13 I’ll be freaking out all over again . . . and then I won’t have anyone to commiserate with.

Judgypants — My Messy Beautiful

We’ve been living abroad, here in Vienna, Austria, for 3 years now, but there are still SO MANY little day-to-day things that can be a challenge.  It’s these little everyday things that can trip me up the most.  My mom has always told me, “You don’t trip over Mt. Everest”, and she’s right — I am usually prepared to handle big things, but the little things can easily make or break my day.

I think, as with so much that I’ve learned while living abroad, this has always been true, I’m just more aware of it now.  These days, we so often get by on little kindnesses — someone being patient with our awkward German or smiling at us as we blunder through an unfamiliar social interaction — and our fragile comfort zone can be so easily damaged by the opposite — impatience, unkindness or a lack of understanding.

Last April, I had one of these not-so-great interactions with an Austrian.  (Though most of our interactions with the locals here have been overwhelmingly positive.)  I had just taken the kids to get their latest set of vaccines.  We’d had to skip nap time to make the appointment, and I was happily surprised and quite relieved that both boys had handled themselves so well.  We were on the tram, headed home, and enjoying the ride — talking to each other, commenting on what we saw out the window, asking and answering questions.  Normal mom stuff with a 2 year old and a 4 year old.  I was truly present in the moment, enjoying my kids, and we were all happy to be headed home.

Here they are, waiting for the tram. So sweet!

And then, quite suddenly, an older man near the front of the tram car stood up and started shouting at us.  It would have been unsettling regardless, but since Austrians are typically exceedingly quiet on trams and trains, it was particularly shocking.  The entire tram car fell silent and stared as he told us off, in irate German (extra angry-sounding points for that) for making entirely too much noise, before departing the train at the next stop, shouting as he went.

I was mortified.  I was also genuinely surprised and immediately defensive.  My kids had not been particularly loud (seriously, by American standards we were using almost library volume voices) and this man had been sitting dozens of feet away from us.  What was his problem?!?  My fellow tram riders gave me sympathetic looks and glared after him in commiseration, but still, behind my embarrassment and bruised ego, I felt entirely defeated.  Here, in this moment which I’d thought had been going so well, I felt suddenly reminded of how out of place we were, of how easy it was for us to be inappropriate, and of how poorly we were fitting in.  I felt so judged, and like such a failure.

In truth, I was also pretty pissed.  My kids were behaving, being happy, and no louder than the ambient noise on the strassenbahn, which creaks and squeaks as it makes its way through the streets.  If my German had been better, I would have told HIM off in return.  (So there!)  How dare he!  He doesn’t know us or our situation.  I immediately started creating dramatic scenarios we could be suffering through (but weren’t) that fueled my feelings of indignation.  What if this were my first time out with my kids alone ever?  What if one of us suffered from agoraphobia or social anxiety and just being on the strassenbahn was a victory?  What if we had suffered some kind of trauma or loss and it was our first happy conversation in months?  None of those things are true in our case, but it IS true that being out with both kids, on public transportation, in a country where I am an outsider and have trouble communicating is a major challenge.  Keeping both kids relatively quiet and happy is a major achievement, and he had just crapped on it.  I was hurt, I was angry, and I was instantly critical him for not being more thoughtful before he opened his big, angry mouth.  I put on a brave face for the kids, who were looking to me to see how to react.  I shrugged it off and went back to discussing things outside the window, but in my head, I fantasized about all of the nasty things I wished I could have said.

And then, as I obsessed over it, I was suddenly struck by a realization – I was judging him, too.  Maybe *he* has trouble being out in public.  Maybe *he* recently suffered a loss.  Maybe he is old and bitter and alone and the sound of children laughing is like nails on a chalkboard to him.  Maybe he once lost a child, or a grandchild, and my children being happy was painful for him.  Or maybe not.  Maybe he was having a bad day.  Maybe he got some bad news, or was in bad health, or was exhausted from taking care of someone or stressed about his finances.  I don’t know.  Any or all of those could be true.  (Or he could just be a big, old, Austrian grumpypants.)

Regardless, it’s no more my place to judge him or to lash out in anger than it was appropriate for him to shush us out of his own personal frustrations or issues.  And yet . . . I pass judgement on others all the time (both good and bad):  I like her hair, I think he’s fat, I wonder what she was thinking when she put that outfit on this morning, I think that dad is clueless because he’s letting his kid get away with something.  I judge, ALL THE TIME.

I don’t know anyone else’s situation.  And, sitting on that tram, I realized that not only is passing judgement on others thoughtless and unkind, it absolutely bounces back and ends up hurting me, too.  When I judge someone else positively, I will feel (today, or one day in the future, maybe on a day when I don’t have it all together … like most of the days) like I don’t measure up to that standard I judged them against.  When I judge someone harshly, I will feel inadequate and ashamed later when I find myself failing to live up to that same standard.  Even the judgements I feel the most entitled to don’t serve any good purpose in my life.  We all have tough days.  MANY of my days over the past 3 years have been tough, and I’ve failed against all kinds of personal standards in ways I thought I would never allow to happen.  Things change.  Life is hard.  Nobody is perfect.

I think it’s part of why I carry so much guilt as a parent – because before I was a parent, I passed judgements about other parents.  I *knew* what I would do or say or how I would handle certain situations or behaviors.  I would *never* do this, that, or the other and would *always* do something else.  And then, when it was my turn, and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WENT HOW I EXPECTED, I constantly heard my own voice echoing in my head, judging and criticizing my choices.  And I naturally assume that everyone else is constantly thinking those things too.

Parenting is hard.  Nothing in my life has taken me so quickly off of my high horse of “always” and “never” than having a child (except maybe for having the second one).  Living in a foreign country is hard, too.  And people ARE judging me.  I get stuff wrong all the time.  As a parent, as an expat, as a human being.  I make mistakes ALL THE TIME.  Like EVERY day.  And what I’ve learned in 5+ years as a parent and 3+ years as an expat is that every single thing I do is going to be “wrong” in someone’s eyes.  EVERY SINGLE THING.  People didn’t like that we used disposable diapers and others wouldn’t have liked it if we’d used cloth diapers.  To some people, it was wrong for me to breastfeed my kids in public and to others it was wrong when I would choose not to (it’s also wrong to not cover up and wrong if I did).  There are people who think that moving abroad was the best choice ever and people who think we’re heartlessly selfish for subjecting our kids to this.  Everything I do, from what I feed my kids to what I dress them in to what time I put them to bed to what I let them watch (or don’t) on tv will be wrong to someone.  I have gotten crap for taking my kids shopping in the stroller because it makes the store too crowded, but if I don’t bring the stroller, someone will be upset because one of the kids touched something they shouldn’t have or sat down in the aisle and refused to walk another step.  People roll their eyes when one of my kids is crying on the train and they roll their eyes when I give them a cracker to stave off the crying.  There is just no way to “win” the judgement game, except to choose not to play.

And, like the grumpy guy on the strassenbhan, the judgements people pass on me are ALWAYS a reflection of their own personal story, not of mine.  So, thanks, angry strassenbahn man from a year ago.  You gave me some much needed perspective.  It was an unexpected gift that I’m not sure you meant to give.  (Thanks anyway, though.)

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, CLICK HERE!

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Plan B

We had a plan for the last weekend of March.  The kids had Friday off for a teacher work day, so Dan planned to take off of work and we were finally going to go to Prague for the weekend — a destination which has been on our list since we moved to Vienna.

When planning travel, especially with kids, it’s so important to have a “plan B” in mind, because things don’t always work out as planned.  In this case, Liam spent almost an entire week sick with an on again/off again fever leading up to our intended trip, and a trip to Prague just wasn’t going to be the right choice for us.  So, at the last minute, we decided not to go.

It was hard to give up the plan that we were all so excited about, but we made the right choice.  By Monday, Liam was well again, but the next day, B got sick and then I followed him.  In short, we are just now coming off of 2+ weeks with at least one of us sick, and our trip to Prague was intended to be right in the middle of that.

It’s a bummer, because we were really looking forward to finally seeing Prague, and we had found a great (and not too expensive) place to stay (which B helped me pick out, and he was SO excited to go).  But it’s ok — Prague has been there for a long time, and it isn’t going anywhere.  We’ll just have to wait a bit longer for our chance to see it.

Field trip

It took some getting used to, but I now accept the frequency and variety of Viennese Kindergarten (preschool) field trips as a matter of course.  I’ve never had a child in American preschool, but I suspect they don’t do quite as many outings via public transportation as Viennese children do (Liam has two field trips, both requiring several subways journeys, just this week, and B has one).  It’s entirely common to see a group of tiny children, shepherded by 3 or 4 teachers, riding the bus or subway or just walking down the street.  I’ve grown so accustomed to it that B doesn’t even seem particularly young to be doing such things anymore.

Upon learning, during B’s first year in school here, how common these trips were, I was excited — as a stay-at-home mom, I’d be able to go along on a lot of these trips, right?  It’s one of the benefits of staying home with my kids that I’d secretly been looking forward to the most.  I love the idea of getting to do fun things around Vienna with my boys and their classmates!  Alas, they don’t do the whole “parent chaperone” thing here.  When I first suggested it, B’s teachers reacted as though it was the strangest suggestion they had ever heard, commenting, “But it wouldn’t be fair to the children whose parents couldn’t come.”  Bummer.

In all, though, I’ve adjusted to the idea of these preschool field trips, and so have the kids.  They’ve generally been great successes, and the kids tend to come home happy and very tired.  Liam had one such outing today, to an Easter market quite close to our house.  (His school is not at all close to our house, so they had to make quite a trek to get here.)  He’s gotten good at these, and always behaves really well, so I’ve stopped worrying (overly) about it.  This time, though, I did ask Dan to mention that the class would literally be walking past our front door, so that in case Liam refused to walk any further or insisted on going inside, the teachers would at least have some idea of what was going on.  I was SO tempted to just “happen” to stop by the market, in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him and his classmates doing cute stuff, but I didn’t — I knew that there was a good chance of me upsetting him if he saw me, since I wouldn’t be able to actually tag along afterwards.

I did get a lovely surprise, though — when Dan dropped Liam off this morning, and explained to the teachers that they’d be going right past our house, Liam’s teacher asked if I’d like to meet them at the end of the trip and just pick him up right there.  Wonderful!  Not only would that save him a round trip to school and back, but I’d get to surprise my little guy on his field trip AND take him home with me at the end.  Yay!

So, that’s what we did.  Liam had a “great” time at the Easter market (apparently there were cookies and bunnies) and his teacher called me at the end.  I went straight downstairs and met them next door to our building.  (They were as cute as I’d imagined they would be, but I was so excited to see him that I didn’t get a picture.)  Liam was SO excited to see me, and SO thrilled when he asked if we could go home and I said yes.  He happily said goodbye to his friends and teachers and I took my littlest guy home to play, just the two of us, for an hour or so before Dan brought Benjamin home.  It was my favorite field trip so far.

3rd Viennaversary

We’ve been here for 3 years, as of yesterday.  That’s a little bit astounding to me, partly because I never envisioned being here for more than a year or two, and partly because it truly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

I think I remember every single moment — or at least every single feeling — from that first day.  I remember dazedly collecting our belongings (and Bailey) at the airport baggage claim, wandering out into the drizzle of Vienna and being shocked by how many people were smoking.  I remember being unceasingly watchful over our luggage cart while we waited for our friend Greg to pick us up.  I remember getting Bailey out of his crate and wondering if there was a specific place I was allowed to walk him.  I remember that I had no idea what I was doing, and worrying that I had made an awful mistake.

We had almost no money, no local bank accounts, and no idea that we would be largely unable to use our credit cards.  We spoke no German.  I was wary of everything, from our new landlord to the ATM machines.  We didn’t admit it to ourselves at the time, but we were afraid.

I remember somehow cramming everything into and onto Greg’s van.  I remember that he parked illegally while we got our stuff unloaded and that I was terrified that his car would be towed.  I remember being freaked out when our new landlord offered to help carry Liam into the building while I carried Benjamin.  I remember not being prepared to pay in cash when we checked in to our first apartment (which was expected) and no one minding that we couldn’t.  I remember Greg going to the market and getting us the things we needed to get through those first few hours . . . and that he left us his grocery bag so we would have one to use when we went back (we still have it).  I remember the waitress from the restaurant downstairs helping Dan carry plates of schnitzel and mason jars of cucumber and potato salad to our apartment for dinner our first night, because we didn’t know that takeout isn’t done here and I couldn’t face a restaurant with two jet lagged kids in a completely unknown language and culture.

I remember being absolutely overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity we were shown on a day when I was expecting neither.  I remember sitting awake as Dan, both boys and Bailey slept, and finding a little peace in the safety and security of that little apartment on Hollandstraße, and finding, again, a tiny spark of enthusiasm for this adventure amidst the overwhelming challenge of the reality of it.

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Time travel

I hate Daylight Saving Time.

Well, I do kind of like that the sun doesn’t rise at 3:30 in the morning in June.  And I do like having extra light in the evenings to run, or go for a walk, or stop by the playground.  But the switch from “standard” to “saving” time apparently makes my entire family crazy.

It doesn’t just feel like we moved our clocks ahead by an hour, it feels like we travelled back in time 6 months (or more).  We all make progress, all the time — the kids grow up, learn to do and handle new things while I try to work on myself, improve my perspective and weed out bad habits and thought processes.  The last 36 hours (we just had our time change this past weekend here in Europe) have been like stepping back to last summer or fall, and not in a good way.

Liam has been throwing more tantrums.  Liam has been throwing more toys.  Liam has been throwing more food.  (There’s been a lot of throwing.)  Liam has been hitting Benjamin, Dan & I – not something we’ve gotten rid of entirely, but something we had made massive progress on in the past few months.  Liam, who recently transitioned to not wearing diapers at all during school hours, refused to leave the house without one this morning and had a crying meltdown at preschool drop off.  Benjamin has been tearful over his toys.  Benjamin has been tearful over the arrangement of his pillows and blankets.  Benjamin has been tearful (and angry) about pretty much every single thing Liam has done in the past day and a half.  Both kids seem to have forgotten how to listen.  And I have handled all of this with hard-won wisdom and maturity — I’ve screamed, threatened, begged and cried.  Let me just say — it has been a massively charming day and a half around here.

I suppose it’s possible that it’s a complete coincidence and we all just woke up in terrible moods and without any flexibility yesterday morning.  Maybe we’re coming down with something.  Maybe there’s just something in the air.  I mean, how could one little shifted hour wreak so much havoc?  This feels like jet lag on steroids.  We’re all out of patience, empathy, maturity and resilience here right now.  Fingers crossed that we get through this transition QUICKLY, and with a whole new appreciation for the progress we’ve all made over the past few months after this temporary reminder of how far we’ve come.