It's November...

so remember how last year i couldn't wait until my "usual" november 1st christmas music start date and i turned on the pandora christmas station near the end of october instead?  well, i did.

and remember how i had our collier christmas letter all set to go (even printed) before the november 15th (mostly because baby A was coming soon)?  well, i did.

and do you know how much i absolutely LOVE fall, and especially thanksgiving?  well, a lot.

and did you know that i really look forward to that stupid thanksgiving parade each turkey day morning?!  you bet i do.

but i feel so far away from all of that.  it doesn't even feel like november.  it must not be november yet.  in fact, i was really hoping that the weather, back in the states, would just pause in the month of october so that when we visit wisconsin in december, there will still be a vibrant array of colorful leaves on the trees, apples to be picked for apple pie, the smell of corn being harvested in the fields, and the cool mornings that burst into warmer, bright afternoons.  because living in the desert, i find that i miss autumn the most (okay, it's up there anyway).  and even though the days are cooling down here (highs are only in the mid-80s!), it's nothing like a midwest/western pa autumn.

so i bid fall weather so-long and all of the wonderful memories associated with that time of year.  i dream of a future where my children will play in the leaves that have freshly fallen from the tree laden with autumn that stands in our front lawn.  someday i'll get to enjoy it all again...

and sort of with this bit of sourness, lostness, absence of autumn, i also feel the absence in my soul in a way.  not vibrant.  just a dull sandy color like the rest of my physical surroundings.  i'm trying, and there are some really great days and we've had some fun times together.  and i'm glad we're here (did i really just say that?).  i am settling-in.  and we're finding some routine.  and we come home to a house that's becoming like a home with a solid welcome matt on the front porch to help anchor us here.  establishing ourselves.  but there is still longing.  i won't deny it.

especially with my lovely daughter's first birthday on the near horizon.   i completely enjoy getting things ready for her birthday party.  for her big day.  i get my creative-on and build a video mixed with photos and video clips taken throughout her first year of life.  and i put it to music.  and i enjoy crying and reminiscing as i compile this video for us to watch of her on her first birthday.   when i remember those moments again, captured in a picture or a clip, it makes me so thankful.  and then i also get to see how she's grown and i love that because it happens so slowly as you live it from day to day, but looking back, it's astonishing how quickly a year goes by.  i also prepare the details of her party--"theme", what she'll wear, what decorations to use and make, what gifts she will "open", who will be with us to share the celebration of her birth...  all such wonderful things.

and the list of people to invite for her birthday party is short.  there are two families i feel like we somewhat know enough to invite.   and i'm not certain they will both make it either.  and neither of these families really know us, and even beyond that, they don't know anything about my audrey.  they don't know her.

but we will invite them and we hope to get to know them and for them to know us.  and we will have a fun time--with or without them--because it is our little audrey's first birthday.  and ben, and i, and sophie were there when she became real to us.  and that's all that matters.  we are a family and we celebrate one another here.   we know our extended families, our pittsburgh and our blood, would make a party for audrey so very special and i'm sure they would love to be here too.  but even if things look different this time, for this party, for this november, for this autumn, for this year--i have ben, i have sophie, i have audrey, we have God, we have one another.  and we will celebrate.

it's not every day you get to have your first birthday in a very foreign country, right?!  lucky girl, my sweet november baby.