It’s that time of year again! A year goes by so fast, even more so now that there is a babe in our casa – diplo-baby’s first year flew by with every month bringing a new set of developments and discoveries. Combined with our move, it really did become life on fast forward. Because of diplo-baby, it many ways it was the best year of our lives, and because of the move and all these life changes, in many ways it was also the hardest. So here’s a look at where the time did actually go – and here is to even more adventure and learning, and hitting a steady state in 2012!
Unlike last year’s balls and gowns, we rang in 2011 with a dinner party for 8 at our home, giving me some confidence that my new mom self and my old social self might be able to co-exist. With people waltzing in the streets, and the infamous Gluckschweins, and possibly the best fireworks display I have ever seen – and from my living room atrium to boot, I’m convinced that Vienna is the best play for a New Year’s ever. My new mom self also celebrates Diplo-Baby’s first month milestone with a visit with my in-laws and a celebratory glass of wine to aknowledge that we making it a-okay! Later in the month, we make our first day trip to Neusiedlersee in the arctic cold, and our “family trip” to Schloss Velden on Worthersee, experiencing fantastic service and more reassurance that life to come will be good.
A quick day trip to Maria Zell brings a burst of mountain air to February. Enjoying the days of maternity leave at home, Diplo-Baby is my constant companion as we spend our winter days checking out Vienna’s museums and cafes. DB becomes a great lover of the arts and rewards me for these cultural enrichment experiences by insiting on performing a minimum of one massive pooplosion at each exhibit, forcing me to quickly become adept at spotting passable public bathrooms and reminding me I should never leave the house with out a plastic bag, a change of clothes for her, and an extra shirt for me. We also hired the woman who would later become our full time nanny and move back with us, which gave us evenings off for the first time. We take in more of Vienna’s arts scene seeing Erwin Schrott, Cirque du Soleil, Gustavo Dudamel and the ballet of Don Quixote. We close out the month with a winter trip to our beloved Berthesgaden and Salzburg, for some snowy mountain respite.
I start out the month by getting a much needed haircut which sets me up for some spring highlights. We say goodbye to winter with a smile and a return trip to Bad Gastein, when my parents are visiting for their annual ski trip and DB’s 3 month birthday. After the first few days at the peculiar “we are part of the Moscow friendship society” Hotel Elisabethpark, I spend the following week with my parents at the ever friendly Haus Hirt which even, in non-typical Austrian fashion, recognizes us as repeat customers! WOW! I brave a few days on the slopes post-surgery, but also enjoy long walks in the mountains with my mom and diplo-baby and the off-roading strollers on property. We wrap up March with our third annual trip to the Venice Carnival, this time as a trio – well as quad since my sister in law flew in for the fun. We hit up our regular haunts as well as discovered some new ones, and as previously, use this trip to kick off our unofficial start of the aperol spritz season, and I enjoy my last weeks of maternity leave.
Back to the salt mines, and I start out by finding out I was promoted – and the blog turns one year old! I return to the daily grind with a lot of sadness that my days of lolling around Vienna with diplo-baby have come to a close, but as I was working from home, she was still close by. Springtime comes to Vienna quickly, and we enjoy the joys of berlauch for the first time, even learning how to make pesto from it from our Austrian friends. For the Easter holiday, we head to Krakow and Kielce to visit my extended family, proving once again that when you’re in Poland, there is no such thing as too much kielbasa. DB expands her list of acceptable pooplosion locations to include the homes of unsuspecting family and friends. Note: we start bringing two outfit changes to social outings. Diplo-husband surprises me with a trip to Budapest, at the Four Seasons no less to celebrate the return to work, and we hold on to DB tightly at the Budapest Zoo where small children seem to be approaching hippos with popcorn with nothign but a few twigs separating them. I bring out my favorite millinery for the Royal Wedding.
With the return to work also came the return of traveling for work, and I realize I haven’t been on a plane since October of the previous year, probably the longest I have gone without air travel since high school. I immediately seem to get into a scuffle at the Heathrow Airport about expressed milk, which leads to the Crying Over Spilt Milk series posts, which then go viral . With the exception of a few less nice comments (and everyone is entitled to their opinion), I am overwhelmed by the support and realize I’m not the only working mom who struggles between balancing what she thinks is best and the real world constraints of all that we try to do. It’s our last month in Austria, so we make our final bucket lists. We are given a glimpse into authentic countryside life with our Cowboys of Lower Austria weekend, and take one very final trip to Salzburg and Berchtesgaden, leaving in tears.
With our departure looming, we go out with a bang, hosting a party for our Austrian friends at a local heuringer full of schnitzel and strudel, and with a Champagne Campaign tour of the Ring Hotel Bars with American friends. We see a final ballet at the Opera House and have that final last of Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher. They come get our things, and we listen to Sound of Music in the background, while I try not to completely burst into tears as we close the door to our apartment for the last time and catch our early morning taxi to the airport, with Stefansdom becoming smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror. Welcomed by family and friends excited for our return, we throw ourselves into Exotic America upon arrival, starting with a trip to New York City, the Statue of Liberty, eating Brooklyn’s best pizza (in Hoboken), and making an ill-fated attempt at a blueberry festival. We also rejoin the modern era and get iphones.
Celebrated 4 years of marriage! Still crazy after all these years! We head out for a combined work trip and vacation to California to San Francisco and Big Sur, taking in the gorgeous scenery, great food and the freezing breezes. Note to self: pack more warm clothes for trips to California, We finally end our in between living and move into our DC apartment, which we left three years prior as a newly married duo and now return as a trio plus nanny. Speaking of which, diplo-nanny arrived at the end of the month! Double hurrah!
The blog reaches 100,000 views, and we were only at 10,000 in January! A quick weekend jaunt to Palm Beach to celebrate the bacholerette party of a dear friends starts out the month, and I leave just before pending hurricane winds descend on the coast. We keep discovering all the changes in Exotic America – like food truck festivals. And I rediscover how much I love the Kennedy Center with performances of Uncle Vanya and Wicked which helps with the Staatsoper withdrawal. We quickly fall into a Sunday routine at Cafe Leopold where we drown our homesickness for Vienna into Meinl cups of melange, but we’re bouyed by the visit of our first set of Austrian friends who come into town to be godparents to Diplo-baby. We try to show them the best that DC has to offer, and we throw a huge party to officially celebrate returning to Washington. Finally, I was very flattered to be featured as one of the Top 25 Expat Mom blogs at Circle of Moms, hurrah! complete with interview!
As the fall sets in, we fall into work schedules which bring a whole new level of “grind” to our daily. Somehow it becomes predicable for schedules to be unpredictable and we have to cancel a few planned breaks. Still, we try to keep working through our list of fall activities to get a feel for autum on the Eastern Seaboard. Circle of Moms features an interview. September also marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11, which given my background in international relations and DH’s current work in diplomacy really has defined any educational or professional direction we’ve taken in our young adult lives.
Work schedules are becoming crazy prompting me to actually record some of the nutty lingo I hear all day into an official lexicon. But more importantly, I take a much needed weekend for something I’ve always wanted to do and take a photography workshop with Me Ra Koh. It’s amazing. I met a fantastic group of women I’m still in touch with, and I finally crack shooting entirely in manual. Now all that’s left is practice! Work travel takes me back to London, and also to Brussels for the first time…We also celebrate diplo-baby’s first halloween with a kiddie parade and an exotic america hamburger costume.
Wa wa wee wah, we start out the month by winning a trip to Mexico! I never win anything! Definitely put that on the “things to look forward to in 2012” list. We head out to the Eastern Shore to St Michael’s for a day trip, taking in the brisk fall breeze and the fantastically colored leaves which hang on through the beginning of the month. Over Thanskgiving, we take a much needed vacation – no work this time, and we’re back in California, where in the cold desert nights in Palm Springs we realize again we need to pack warmer clothes for trips to California. We enjoy sunshine and retro in Palm Springs, having a great time at the Parker, and then finish off the month with Thanksgiving with my family in San Diego, where DB meets her cousins for the first time, and we celebrate with my brother before his deployment to the air craft carrier. We did exotic america things like visit Sea World. Also, at a grocery store sale I see an amazing price on a bottle of Stag’s Leap which I enjoy with my father. Yes, it really is that good. November seems to have brought upon illness in our house – I get food poisoning from oysters, DB gets a cold, I get a cold, I get pneumonia, then DH gets a cold and then DB again for good measure.
Diplo-baby celebrates her first birthday! Between all the work and travel and illness in November, we didn’t get organized for a party, but I took the day off from work just to enjoy time with her and to reflect how much has changed in the past year. Inspired by other bloggers, we make our own 12 Dates of Christmas list to prepare for the quickly approaching holidays, and even throw in a couple of extra things – like a visit to Hillwood Estates for their Russian Christmas Festival. The Christmas theme this year at our house is Red and White as a tribute to all of our great experiences earlier in the year in Austria, and even though Christmas itself will be with DH’s family in New Jersey, we still put up a little tree. We start Christmas early for diplo-baby by sending her to spend some time with her grand-parents which lets DH and I take some time to enjoy Christmas evenings in the city with a performance of the Nutcracker, dinner just the two of us, and just a “great Tuesday night“.
All photos by The New Diplomat’s Wife, except invitation photo by Kate Triano, and picture of me and Me Ra Koh by Brian Tausend.