I Didn’t Give Germany A Chance

Untitled Design 7When we first started tossing around the idea of moving to Germany it felt surreal. The concept of actually living in Europe wasn’t something I could have wrapped my head around. I had been to England and Scotland when I was a baby, but Europe was this distant dream that I dreamed for a long time, but never really thought would be able to be a reality.

When we got orders, it still felt surreal. I couldn’t believe that this dream I had would be a reality. That we would be so blessed. The concept of being able to travel Europe, to go to all these countries was just too good to be true. Incredible. I thought of all the sights we could see, all the countries we would visit.

And I’ll be honest- I treated Germany as simply a location. A central spot that we could then travel out of. Not as a place to explore beyond a few historical landmarks. I knew about Germany, knew its history, it’s big cities, some of its culture (like Oktoberfest), and that was about it. I focused solely on EVERYWHERE else we could go, all the other things that we could see, all the dreams that would no longer be just dreams.

I now realize how much of a mistake this was.

Germany is stunning. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its own spots ,it doesn’t have troubles, but I definitely should have thought more about everything that we could do within its borders, rather than just looking outside the country. There is so much to see here, so many little holes in the wall spots that no one really thinks about that are just stunning. A lot of the little towns are old world quaint and each has its own history. Take Tubingen (HERE) or even Weltenburg Abbey (HERE), we had considered these both a nice little day trip, but both are so perfectly European and German, and I loved it. This was something I hadn’t really thought about when we got orders. The history here goes back much further than I had even anticipated (yep, I’m naïve) and there is a never-ending number of things to do and places to see.

And, since we can’t ignore the elephant in the room…Germany has such a way with its own history. They have quite the history here, quite the troubled past, but they’ve managed to settle with it. One of the things that has stuck with me in our time here so far is how they handle their own history. They don’t hide behind it; they don’t bring it up time and time again. They acknowledge what happened, they acknowledge the hurt and pain that was caused, they punish those responsible. They take steps to make reparations, they don’t destroy everything relating to their own history, choosing to make the most incredible memorials that I’ve seen out of the pieces. The Berlin Wall Documentation Center, The Berlin Wall, The Eastside Gallery, Dachau Concentration Camps, Nuremberg Rally Grounds, Nuremberg Court House…the list goes on. All of these places are landmarks, marking down what happened for everyone to see. They’ve made changes, they’ve learned, anyone who visits these places learns. They move forward.

We can all take a lesson from that.

Not to mention just the sheer amount of history here. In a city right near us they are excavating bodies from Roman times and have a set of Roman archways from… It’s incredible to think that some of the places that we see have that much history.

We won’t even start to get into the culture of this country. Festival season is such a fun, warm and welcoming time, not to mention the season we are about to go into…the most wonderful time of year. The way of life, the idea of a slower pace. We live in the countryside (something we’ve been wanting for a long time) and the number of animals and crops that we see daily is something else. It’s been an incredible bit of time and one that we are looking forward to continuing for the next couple of years.

I’ve found a true home in a place that I hate to admit that I discounted. I figured it would be a home base for everywhere, but we’ve really made a home here in such a short time. I won’t discount a place again.

 

Some Thoughts on Consumerism

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You know what’s a funny thing? I heard or participated in a similar version of what I’m about to write about around 3-4 times in the past week. And to be fair- it’s kind of opened my eyes a little bit to something that I had felt, but hadn’t articulated.

Here’s how it all started…

I, and a couple of friends were having a conversation about some of the differences and struggles about living in Germany as compared to living in the United States. A question was posed: “On your weekends, what did you do?”  My friend and I sat there for a couple seconds, wondering if it was rhetorical or a trick. “Uh, watched football?” “Ran errands?”  We responded. “Exactly. We watch TV and we shop on our weekends.” We hesitantly agreed and then the magic happened…”We have to realize that there is more to the world than Walmart”.

“We have to realize there is more to the world than Walmart”.

Maybe it’s not Walmart, maybe it’s Target (be honest- it’s probably Target), maybe it’s Nordstrom, or Marshall’s/TJ Max’s, maybe it’s boutique stores. You can interchange Walmart with just about any store and come up with what fits you and a true statement. And with a lot of these stories we have the ability to do this 24/7. The internet has made the possibility of shopping literally wherever, whenever  I mean, how many times have we all just “amazoned” an item?) and often times stores then try to compete with that by staying open later on weekdays and opening up all weekend. We are also consuming high levels of media. In homes, TV’s tend to be more on than off, we are almost always on our phones in some way, not to mention computers and tablets.

This boggles my mind. How is it that we manage to spend our free time doing these things? How is it that we are so inundated with this idea that we need to buy all the things, watch all the things, be a part of this lifestyle that we forget that there is so much more to life. There is more to the world.

I’ve been 100% guilty of doing this. I was someone who spent most weekends at home, in my comfiest chair, TV on, book in hand, phone never too far away. When we would leave the house 60% of the time it would be to go to a store of some sort. Oftentimes a trip to the grocery store would also involve a trip to the Target shopping center. I bought a lot of things on Amazon (some we needed; most we didn’t “need”) for the convenience. We had the option of just clicking and buying whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. So, why not do that?

Have you ever heard…”Go into Target for one thing, come out with a dozen other things and not the thing you needed”? THIS. This is what I’m talking about. The idea that just going to Target to do a quick shopping run and buy ALL THE THINGS and this is the cool norm now? That’s wrong. Whether you can afford it or not, there is more to life than just one big long shopping trip.

When we moved to Germany things were vastly different.

For starters, there are a lot more outdoor markets in the different regions. Fresh produce from right down the road is always available for purchase. Fresh seasonal flowers (some of which you can cut yourself) are around. In town grocery stores are smaller than they are in the States and have smaller carts/are intended for smaller trips. The festivals tend to feature more local artisans than not.

Stores close EARLY (and I mean like anywhere from 5-6PM) and are all always closed on Sundays (except for Shopping Sunday which happens every couple months). Life here is focused on the in-person connection. Meals last for hours at restaurants, allowing people the time to really forge connections and conversations. There are not a lot of people that you see on the phone while out in public. It’s a vastly slower pace of life, without that massive jump to buy. There are a lot more outdoor activities, from hikes to biking to canoeing to paddle boating.

There is also a much bigger focus on travel here. Most people spend their “free money” and savings on traveling, seeing new places and learning about new things. We’ve quickly caught that travel bug and that is where a lot of our budget goes toward. We have been finding that we did not actually take enough weekend trips previously and how easy those types of trips really are.

It’s such a different way of life and one that I’ve really found loving. I’ve quickly settled into this slower pace lifestyle. My shopping has been cut down quite a bit (due in part to convenience and in part to just general shipping times for online shopping) and I’ve really found myself evaluating a couple of lifestyle choices. I’ve been wanting a bit of a change for a while and Germany has kind of given me the push to make that change. These are changes that I want to keep whenever we do go back stateside as I find them to be such positives and something that I think more people could benefit from.

We need to make a point to spend less time shopping, less time watching TV, less time lounging in our own home, and more time getting to know our world. Putting the digital world aside on the weekend and living in the real world. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with watching TV, or having the occasional trip to the shops (beyond grocery shopping), but the way that we have started treating our lives in the States is kind of scary to think about.

Is the 24/7 convenience of being able to shop nice? Yea, but how many times are we really needing that convenience? Is this something that can wait till the next day? Better yet, is it something that we really need or something we think we need because of the mentality?

Let me know your thoughts on consumerism as I’d love to have a discussion about it. This is something that has been itching in the back of my mind, this difference in culture and mindset, and I’d love to speak about it with others!

Round the Kettle Ep. 20: A Life that Seems Like a Vacation

I’ll be completely honest- I’m writing this on a Friday when I’d rather be reading, snacking on some super healthy snacks called tortilla chips, and hoping for the day to end soon. Ironically, today is the first day that I am feeling like a human again after a rough couple of days. I’ve been dealing with a migraine for the past few days, and while I have been able to manage most of my migraines, this particular one is not one that I can easily prevent.

Thankfully the kids have actually been relatively well behaved over the past week since I’ve been dealing with this migraine and have been going solo with Robert being away. They’ve been like charming little angels, which has been a nice reprieve. I’m hoping that maybe we’ve crossed an imaginary bridge into a different phase of their little lives. One that is calmer, maybe?

I want to talk about something today that I have been seeing and experiencing a little bit recently. I actually spoke about this with a friend earlier today during our children’s playdate and I found that we had pretty similar experiences and thoughts on the subject. I briefly spoke about this on Social Media, but am going to expand now.

We currently live in Europe and have lived here for about 9 months now. Just saying that still feels so surreal I can’t even describe that feeling. We are so blessed and are taking advantage of the time that we have here to do a fair amount of traveling and learn about the culture here.  We love it here, truly, and have made a home out of our house and neighborhood. We’ve made friends, the boys have such a great social life, and we plan on starting up with sports come Spring. We are creating a life for ourselves for the next few years, a semi-permanent existence.

We travel a fair bit over here, trying to do some sort of trip a couple times a month (no more than that though- it’s exhausting, more on that in an upcoming post). Our traveling is what works for us, we travel more than some, less than others.

Honestly, we live a life that almost seems like a vacation.

We always share the good sides, the happy moments, and all the travel that it often seems to paint a picture of pure bliss and constant travels. I have gotten swept up in sharing that as that is what so many want to see. They want to live a life through you since you’ve gotten this incredible opportunity and I won’t begrudge anyone of that.

Here’s the thing though, we are building a life here. We have a home here. My husband works here. Our life is not just one big happy vacation. Sometimes it is weeks and weeks at home, having playdates, reading books, writing posts. Sometimes it is trips to castles, to other beautiful countries, to festivals we had never even dreamed about. Our travels are a dream come true and yet a struggle with two toddlers (because even the most easy-going kids have their moments). We have bad days that aren’t just magically solved because we are in Europe, in fact some struggles are unique to actually being IN Europe. I try to show the good and the bad, what we like and don’t like, and what we’ve learned, but understand that I get swept up in showing only the good just like anyone else. It’s not just a long vacation, even though sometimes it can feel like it, this is our life here.

With that being said, the past couple weeks have been down weeks. We spent the week doing normal things, playgroup, playdates, coffees…laundry and cleaning. I dealt with a migraine. Robert was away for work. Just everyday life. Is it more exciting with a European backdrop? Yes, it certainly can be. Little things can be big adventures that you wouldn’t be able to experience in the states. But we also still have bad times and we don’t get to not feel bad about those bad days just because we are living in Europe. We aren’t able to just spend all our days here traveling and that’s not reasonable at this stage of our life. With two toddlers, traveling presents its own unique travels. And we have pretty easy-going traveling boys.

So, that’s where we are at now. Just a little side tangent. How are you doing? How is your Sunday going?

Morning Routine 2019

Morning’s are my golden time. The house is quiet, clean, and so tranquil. I use my mornings to soak in that quiet peace, warm my body and mind up to the day and prepare myself for another productive day. I find that if I have a good fresh start to my day, then my day goes much smoother than if I am feel a bit frazzled.

I’ve done a morning routine before, and while the basics are the same, there are some differences and I now have two very active children, one who is most definitely a morning bird (I get excited when he sleeps to 7:30am).

6AM
My alarm goes off at 6 AM every weekday morning and I try to sit up as soon as I turn it off. At some point I would like to put my phone (which also serves as my alarm clock) across the room so it gets me all the way up, but for now this is what works for me. Also, I find that if I sit up right after I shut my alarm off, I am more likely to actually get up and get on with my morning than if I stay laying down.

Once I’m up, I’ll go handle all my bathroom stuff, brush my teeth, wash off my face with some water and then I’ll change into my workout clothes.

6:15AM

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This is typically about the time that I will start my Yoga Flow. I do yoga almost everyday (weekends are always up in the air with what I do and don’t do) and I find that it is a key part of my morning routine. I feel better throughout the day, feel clearer, and it just really shakes off any feelings I have had from the day before or overnight. It is also the one time that my mind is completely clear and empty. It’s just my soul pushing my body and my breathe.

On occasion Andrew will wake up around 6:15-6:30AM. If this is the case, I’ll stop what I’m doing, grab him some water and then he will either join me and do some yoga (which is interesting) or he will play nearby with his toys. He’s fairly easygoing and quiet first thing in the morning, so I’m usually able to get a decent yoga flow done before he starts chatting and wanting me to get more involved with his play.

6:45-7:00AM

Yoga is usually anywhere from 20-50 minutes depending on what I do/how I am feeling and when the kids wake up. Once I’m done I’ll usually jump in for a quick shower and then get ready for the day.

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For me, getting ready usually takes a total of about an hour – from after I get out of the shower until I am ready to walk out of our room onto the next task. It entails hair, makeup, and getting dressed. I don’t do anything super fancy for day to day, but I still like to put myself together in some form. I’ve talked about it before, but when I feel good about myself and I feel like I’ve made an effort, then I am more likely to be productive throughout the day.

8:00AM

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This is usually the time that I am kind of pushing my limits of what I can do vs. when the kids will need me. This is also normally the time that I go back and forth about getting up even earlier so I can just get a few more minutes haha. I try and take the last bit of time before I need to do breakfast and get on with the day to do a little journaling. Once I finish yoga, I try to keep the playlist of music I use going throughout the rest of the morning- it keeps my head clear. Then once I sit down to do a little journal, I will let my mind come back and I will write out whatever I’m feeling, thinking, needing to get out. I try to just write until I can’t write anymore. I find that gives me a completely clear mind to truly start the day with.

8:30AM

Time for breakfast on the table, boys up and dressed, and get on with the day!

And that’s my morning routine! Not super exciting or different, but I find that it really sets me up for a successful day. If I had to pull one thing from my morning routine that I find really just is key, it would be Yoga. What is one thing from your morning that is key for you?

Self Care Pt. 2 : My Forms of Self Care

Last week we talked about Self Care, what it means, what it can look like, and how to figure out what it looks like for you. Today I want to share a little bit of what Self Care looks like for me, just to give you an idea of the different forms it can take.

For me, Self-Care is a way to just check in with myself, to check in with my soul, to make sure that I am doing ok, and then to re center myself if I am not doing ok. There are a couple different ways that I do this depending on what my needs are at that time. There are things I do daily, things I’ll do monthly, and things that happen just every once in a while.

Daily:

There are several things that I do daily that I view as forms of Self Care.

Yoga. I start my mornings off with a yoga flow that is typically anywhere from 20-50 minutes (depending on what time I have). I find that this gives me the perfect amount of time of quiet (before my early riser descends the stairs), along with the perfect amount of time to re center myself. I’ve done a whole long post about what yoga means for me and what it has done for me (you can read that HERE), but it is the one time that my brain simply stops. My brain goes quiet and all that I feel is the stretching of my muscles and the calmness steadiness of my breathe. It is pure heaven and I am able to carry that peace throughout the rest of my day. It really just centers me both physically and mentally. I can always tell if I’ve gone even a couple days without doing some form of yoga.

Journal. I try to journal every morning, over that first cup of tea after I’ve gotten ready for the day. Lately I’ve been trying to do my own form of morning pages, which I may share later on after I’ve done it for some time, but basically I try to take a little bit of time every morning to just get everything out of my head and onto paper. Usually Yoga clears my mind and journaling is just the icing on the cake for getting any last little rumblings out. Writing can just be incredibly cathartic, and I find that it really not only helps me gets the feelings off my chest, but I can also go back through and pinpoint various things that I may not have been able to see at that time.

Read a book. This is the final thing that I do daily that I would say is Self-Care. Reading is just everything to me. It is relaxation, education, escapism, a way of communicating, and so much more. I have several reading central posts coming up, but it is on the same level as Yoga for me.

Something I try to do weekly is go for a nice long walk. Now, I’m still learning our immediate area, so rather than walks we’ve just been doing nice long bouts in the backyard, but over the past couple weeks, walks have become a thing again. I found that not only is getting the exercise and sunshine such a mood booster (and a big hit for the kids), but just feeling that breeze, seeing the beauty of the countryside around us, is a really good form of self-care. It ticks all the boxes for me.

Finally, there is one thing I do monthly (almost bi monthly) that is my form of Self Care, it is also the thing that if I really just need to take care of myself I will try and do more frequently. That is take myself out to the shops or a local café. Just me, myself, my current read or my computer or my camera and some quality alone time. Often times I will just go to a local café and sit there for a few hours, eating some fresh baked goodies, sipping on a cappuccino or tea. Sometimes I’ll head to the library or to the bigger shopping center. The key thing is that it is just ME and I (and I alone) choose what to do. Occasionally my husband will take the boys out for a daddy and son day and I’ll get the house to myself, but mostly this form of Self Care is alone time at a café or the library. This to me is the ultimate of ultimate’s and it is one of my favorite things to do. I really crave the alone time (some of which simply comes from this season of life, some of which is the introvert in me) and this is the best way for me to get that. A couple hours to myself and I feel like a new wife, mom, woman.

 

I do want to also mention that I have done therapy before (as someone with my adolescent trauma it was necessary) and I highly advocate for therapy. It is so incredibly important and even if you feel like “I don’t have any issues”, it is still worth going to. A lot of times we use our friends or family as therapists (even if we don’t mean to or realize it) and while that is ok from time to time, that is not really what our entire friendship is for. I find that therapy is just a great form of release in itself and it can really help to have an outside party give you some insight. I wanted to mention it as I know that a lot of what I listed does fit into the “romantic ideal” that I talked about previously, but therapy is one of those forms of Self Care that maybe isn’t shared or pictured, but is so incredibly important and I definitely view it as a form of Self Care for myself.

 

So, that’s my basic self-care. What do you do to practice self-care?

Self Care Pt. 1: What is Self Care?

Something I’ve touched on lately is the need for Self-Care. The idea that we can’t take care of others without taking care of ourselves. I am a huge advocate for Self-Care, but I have found that the meaning has become quite “gray area” lately with-it mental health and actually taking care of ourselves becoming a more normal conversation to have. When you hear about “Self-Care” most people will assume bubble baths, easy evenings, coffee, mani/pedi, etc., but in reality its much much more than that.

Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. It doesn’t matter what that activity actually is (unless you are doing something illegal or dangerous to yourself and others).

Something important to remember is that Self Care isn’t always a bubble bath and a good book or a long run. Often times it can be just that, but other times it can be going to see a therapist, going to a group session, it can be trying to dissect a problem you’ve had recently, it can be crying on the floor. Self-care is any intentional act that you are doing to take care of yourself and it’s not always the “romantic” ideal that is portrayed all over social media and television.

Another important thing to remember when it comes to Self-Care is that it looks different to everyone. We are all individuals, with individual needs, individual hardships. Sometimes what really works well for one person doesn’t work for another person, or sometimes it does with a slight adjustment. Some really just need that quiet cup of coffee first thing in the morning, some people need to just scroll on their phone, and some people need to talk their issues out.

The idea of Self Care changes throughout our lives too. As we go through seasons of life in our jobs, in our family unit, in our marriage, in our roles in life, the idea of Self Care changes. I think that everyone can agree that our views change as we grow as people, and so to does the concept of what rejuvenates us, what frees our mind and soul. I think it’s important to acknowledge that what may have worked as a good form of Self Care when we were teenagers may not be what works (or even a viable possibility) for us in our mid 20’s, or moving forward into our 30’s and 40’s. Our lives change, we change, and Self Care will change too.

Next week I will talk a little bit about what Self Care looks like for me, but I find that if you are struggling to figure out what self-care looks like for you (which can be a struggle if you aren’t sure what you really need) I have a couple of tips.

  • Pay attention to when you start to get overwhelmed or stressed. What is your first instinct? What specifically do you want to do when these feelings creep in? Do you want to lash out? Do you want to run away? Do you want to curl up? What is going through your mind? Pay attention because these will be your first signals as to what Self Care can be for you. I’m not saying if your first instinct is to run away, then go for a run (although you could certainly try that!), but maybe taking time away, by yourself is what you need to take care of yourself. If you want to lash out, maybe a hard workout or some form of physical activity is a good idea to help clear your mind.
  • Write everything down. Write down the answers to the questions in Point 1. Write down your feelings. Write down what you want to accomplish. Write everything down, get it off of your chest, and then walk away for a little bit. Go physically take a walk, grab a bite to eat, read a couple chapters of a book, take a bath. Don’t walk away for good (you’ll want to come back to see what you’ve written),but just let yourself feel that freedom for a little bit before coming back to what you’ve written. Just make sure you come back to what you’ve written. There, in that writing, things are going to jump out of you. Answers to the Self Care question. When you come back to see what you’ve written, write down what you did. What made you feel better. Was it the act of writing it out? Was it the walk you went on? Maybe some other physical activity. Or maybe it was getting lost in your book, or taking a pampering bath. Regardless, at the end of all that writing, you’ll have a really good look at what triggered you, what made you feel better, and what Self Care may look like for you.
  • Finally, try a couple different things. Nothing is going to be crystal clear the first go around and it make take trying several different things before finding something that really clicks with you and really helps bring yourself and your soul back into balance. Don’t be afraid to try different things, different times, different days, whatever in order to find what works for you. And don’t be afraid to change things up every once in a while. Remember, self-care isn’t always set in stone, it changes as we change and as our needs change.

So, that’s my first little look into Self Care. I hope that you enjoyed or learned something from it!

Moving – A Real-Life Moment

Being totally honest- I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I am saying. I am just free writing this in the hope that something will stick. Maybe I’ll come back in a little bit and edit it, maybe I’ll just let it post exactly as it is. We shall see…

A little caveat before we get into my rambling- this is not the post I had originally anticipated posting. This week I had a quarterly favorites post (which will be up on Wednesday) and then was going to do another installment in the Utterly Ridiculous Short Stories of My Life about our HHG delivery. HOWEVER, my brain is fried and quite honestly, every time I look at the partially written short story I just crack a little more. I want to be able to do these posts justice and share good content so instead of giving you a half ass short story, I am going to just blabber for a minute about how I’m actually feeling. I hope this isn’t an issue for anyone.

So, if you haven’t been following along…never mind that – If you are reading this post, you are probably well aware of our move. If you follow me on Social Media you are even more aware of it as I think I’ve mentioned the words “our move” more than anything else…I wish I was kidding,

It’s safe to say that I am very excited about our move. Brief breakdown (just skip two sentences if you don’t want to hear this bit for the umpteenth time), we moved to Germany in February of this year. We’ve been living in a hotel apartment up until a little shy of a week ago. Moving to Europe has been a dream come true and I can say without a doubt that within the first week or two we (as a family) had the overwhelming sense of home. It just feels really good to be here.

More than that, our neighborhood is one of the really good ones in our area. We have had the most welcoming and happy neighbors (on both the American and German side) and our house is perfect for us. The boys have been able to have all of their toys back and they have a large yard to go run laps…err energy off in.

And now? Well now my brain is absolutely fried. My body is exhausted. And I still feel the stress and anxiousness of “things to be done”. I am one of those people that, when moving, has to do it all right then. I don’t take breaks very often in the unpacking/settling in process, preferring to just go, go, go until it is all done. That is a) not a very healthy mindset, and b) not something that is really possible with two kids.

**Side note, but relevant- I am also one of those people who can’t slow down/rest while there is a mess or clutter. It’s all got to be cleaned up and put away before I feel like I can sit down.***

My goal by the end of the first week was to have the house 75-80% completed. I would say as of writing this post (Sunday afternoon), we are at around 60%. No big deal. We’ve got most of the main floor done, minus décor/final touches, and we’ve got pretty much all of the second floor done, again, minus décor/final touches. In some ways I’m feeling really good about where things stand this afternoon. In fact, as I am sitting here, cataloging the rooms in our house, I am getting a little relieved at how much has actually been done.

BUT I know that the moment I walk all the way down the stairs, down to the basement, I’ll be feeling a different type of way. It’s the one area of the house that hasn’t really been touched. In one way it’s because it is a lot of the décor stuff, which we aren’t doing until the end, but also because it is where the things that we don’t know what they are, or don’t know where to put them, go. It’s the stomping ground for everything that doesn’t have an “official” spot yet. And it has quickly devolved into a catastrophe. It’s a catastrophe that is going to be handled this week.

All of the above to say that moving has been the most incredible, exhausting, exciting thing ever. It’s been fun to basically design the interior of our new home, to feel all of the good vibes flowing through our house (this may sound a little out there depending on how you think, but I truly just feel like this house has such a good feeling to it, felt it when we walked through the first time, when we got our keys and off and on throughout the unpacking), but it’s also been absolutely exhausting on both a physical and mental level.

In all the heyday of moving and the excitement of our new home, being in a foreign country, traveling all over, we forget that moving is HARD. There is a lot going on, a lot of sorting, of unpacking, of setting things up. And while I’ve been so excited to set everything up, to find the right spot for all of our furniture (and nick knacks and artwork when that time comes), I’m also sitting here, almost a week in wondering what the hell has happened over the past week.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s coming to an end. I know we’ve been able to accomplish so much in the short few days we’ve been here. And I know, at the end of this it will feel so good to just be settled and be able to go on vacation and relax. But first we have to get to that point. One cup at a time (which I am brewing a plenty of cups).

It’s the first of July and even though we are not done unpacking, I am hopeful that we are past the worst of it, that we can have this first day of a new month serve as a fresh start. That we can start getting our actual routine back. That I can breathe and start finalizing the little details for our trip this month. I’m feeling positive. Basically: That light at the end of the move tunnel is shining really bright.

So, there’s my current status. I don’t really know if this has made any sense at all. If you’ve moved recently, let me know how it went for you! Also, let me know if you are a go, go, go kind of person or a take the needed breaks kind of person.

Berlin – A Long Weekend

Good morning! This morning I am going to talk {A LOT} about our recent long weekend trip to Berlin. My husband had his first 4-day weekend through is work and we felt as if it would be remiss to not go SOMEWHERE for the weekend. We debated between going to Berlin and Munich and Berlin ended up winning (obviously…). We did this a little bit last minute (although we have a bucket list of places to choose from, as well as a breakdown of potential amounts of time that we would need to feel comfortable traveling those places), but we booked the hotel and such only a few days before we actually left. I won’t go on too much longer as I have A LOT to tell you. I’ll be doing a whole “Things We Learned” post separately, so this will just be what we saw/did…which is still A LOT.

I will say, it is currently mid-March. This means rain, cloud cover, occasional snow and 40-50Farenheit temperatures. We had planned for this to happen and while the weather didn’t impede us from doing what we wanted to do, it is definitely a factor.

We left for Berlin early Friday morning and had decided to drive there, but then park the car and rely on public transport while we were actually there. It’s about a 4.5-5 hr drive for us (including stops) and that was a decent distance for both us and the kids. They were able to be occupied for most of the drive by everything outside and they napped for a little bit. It was a pretty easy drive, just a hop on the autobahn and away we went.

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My husband had done a bit of Expedia shopping around and settled on the Kastanienhof Hotel. This was such an incredible hotel to stay at. A little on the pricey end, but it’s also Berlin, so it could be a more inexpensive option. We got a “suite” option which had a separate little bedroom set up for the boys that we could close the doors on at night for sleeping. We had a good-sized bathroom and a little minibar set up. The best part is the hotel is right next to a pick-up point for the Streetcar, so it works perfectly.

We spent Friday afternoon/evening at the Berlin Wall Memorial. This is a notorious spot in the wall, which bisected an apartment building, park, and was one of the original crossing points, the wall has portions that are still intact and portions that were picked at when it “came down”. This is a running theme throughout quite a bit of Berlin. There are portions of the wall still up in a quite a few areas, both museum/historical and just regular spots. Across the street from the tower/wall you can head in to the Documentation Center and up to the overlook. The overlook gives you a good look from above at what the wall was like. There is an exterior and interior portion, with a tower in the middle.

IMG_5373.jpgOnce we finished there, we headed out for dinner at a local hole in the wall barbecue joint, Chicago Williams BBQ (which was delicious) and then back to the hotel for some sleep. I will say- just on this first day we had walked just over 2.5 miles, and this was our “light day” (we walked a total of around 20 miles through the whole weekend and I don’t know how many flights of stairs).

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The next morning, we woke up somewhat early after a night of…”sleep”…amongst the city sounds of Streetcars, Bikes and regular cars outside our window. I am not opposed or even mad about this, it was just something that we had to spend that first night adjusting to. Saturday morning, we decided to head over to another hole in the wall restaurant, this time a bakery for a quick breakfast before heading out for a day of exploring. We had lofty plans for the day and even the forecasted rain wasn’t going to stop us.

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We started at Checkpoint Charlie. Checkpoint Charlie is probably about the only crossing point you’ve really heard about in terms of crossing at the Berlin Wall. It has seen demonstrations, stand offs, escape attempts and was demolished in a full formal ceremony. Now they have the building for the checkpoint where you can take pictures (they even have a couple actors that you can pay to take pictures with) and a full museum across the street. The museum covers a brief history of the wall, but focuses mostly on different escape attempts, including vehicles and such that were actually used, and people that are closely tied to the Berlin Wall. This was a must see on our list.

The second must see on our list was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/Holocaust Memorial. I had heard about what walking through this memorial was like and let me say, words cannot begin to describe it. The site is filled with concrete slabs of varying height and there is an underground area that lists out the names of the murdered Jews of the Holocaust. It has a cold, sobering almost inhuman affect as you walk through it. It feels like a cemetery, but the slabs do not have any notations (like tombstones would) which I think adds to the sobering affect. It can be a bit overwhelming when you think about the actual facts and numbers, but this is one of the most well-done memorials I feel.

Since we were in the area (and needed a bit of an uplifting view), we headed over to one of the biggest tourist spots in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate. It certainly did not let us down as we fought around people, street performers, and cars to take a look. It was totally worth the fight. From there we decided to walk down the road a little bit and take a look at The Soviet War Memorial. This commemorates the Soviet soldiers who fought and died at the Battle of Berlin in Spring 1945. You can walk through the memorial and into the Tiergarten on the other side. With the Tiergarten you can walk the paths and head over to the Reichstag Building Deutscher Bundesta- Plenarbareich Reichstagsgebaude). This building has a long and storied history of being built, fires, wars, divided country and reunification. It currently houses the Parliament of Germany and if you would like to tour the inside, you will need to purchase a pass/ticket and go through background, etc. Think of it along the lines of The US Capital or White House. It is an official government building.

 

1231152903949824964_IMG_0581.jpgThe last place we stopped at on Sunday was the Fernsehturm Building (or the TV Tower). Built in the 60’s and at 368 meters, this is the tallest structure in Germany, and it serves a couple of purposes. It serves as the location for TV and Radio, but also has a viewing platform at 203 meters up and a restaurant at 207 meters up.

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We picked the very wrong day/time to go up to the observation deck as the fog was coming in just before we went up, but we still enjoyed a decent view. The longest part of the timeline was waiting to go up. We finished the day with dinner at a restaurant right near our hotel and then headed almost straight to bed afterwards.

Sunday started out as a beautiful day. We wanted to make the most of the sunshine, so we headed out early for breakfast and then planned to go over to the East Side Gallery. For breakfast my husband had found this little bakery on Trip Advisor that he decided we needed to go to.

Called Zeit Fur Brot it had the most delicious variety of Cinnamon Rolls I’ve ever had. They are huge, heaping with both icing and cinnamon, but not too sugary sweet, baked right there in the shop fresh throughout the morning (you can watch them do this as well which is really cool). This is hands down a MUST stop place (in fact my husband went and got them to go on Monday morning for us).

After a delicious breakfast we hopped on the underground (and then a bus) and headed to see the East Side Gallery. This is a mile-long portion of the wall that has been painted by various artists. It showcases artists from around the world and some of the paintings are quite moving.

It was so beautiful and truly showed how you can take something that is such a horrid piece of a history and turn it into something good. The way this has been repurposed is wonderful. It also sits right on the water and once we were done walking (and while we were trying to figure out our next stop) we sat and watched the water, the birds, and the storm come in. It was so relaxing and a nice little moment.

Noting the incoming rain storm, we decided to head over to a museum, this time The Topography of Terror which (I think) is the only museum dedicated entirely to World War 2. The landscape has both Berlin Wall remnants AND WW2 building remnants which was very interesting to see. This site was where the most important institutions of the Nazi’s were located. It served as the headquarters of the Gestapo, the Leadership and Security Service, and the Reich Security Main Office. The museum goes through the specifics of the command and people that were involved in these offices as well as facts about the Nazi rise to power, their actions, and their downfall. You can walk through portions of the build site on the outside.

7297860356480843521_IMG_0542Our second to last stop we made on Sunday was to the Berlin Victory Column. This is actually not the original spot of this particular monument; the Nazi’s had moved it from its original location to where it now stands. At 66 Meters (almost 67) the open-air viewing platform is dizzying, not to mention the thin circular stairs that you climb to get to the platform itself.

 

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From the platform you can see all across Berlin and we got a much clearer view of the city. There is also a lower platform (much much lower) that gives a nice all-around view as well. As terrified as I am of heights (and the almost panic attack I had on the tiny platform), I really think that this is a spot to visit! The view was unforgettably beautiful even on a cloudy day.

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We stopped over at the Berlin Cathedral to take a peak. I really enjoy seeing cathedrals, with their massive domes and bells that ring every hour. We weren’t able to go in due to a service starting and dinner rapidly approaching, but we were in awe of what we did see.

-3894708180345114520_IMG_0604.jpgOur final morning in Berlin we decided to make a last-minute decision and head to one of the animal attractions that Berlin boasts of. We figured this one would be solely for the kids (although we got a lot out of it too) and it would be a good energy release before the long drive back home. We didn’t go to the Berlin Zoo, rather we opted for Tierpark. We had several reasons for this, I think this one is the bigger more spread out option and it took us out of the city a little bit. We picked the right spot.

Let me be clear, we spent 3 hours here and didn’t even see a fraction of the animals that they have. Not only do they have a large {mostly} open air zoo, it also serves as a park, and they currently have several baby animals. We saw so much mother/baby animal bonding going on it was too much for my momma heart to take! I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible the little bit of time we spent here was. Not only do I highly recommend it, but I would caution you to budget a whole day for it.

That about sums up our Berlin Weekend!I know this was a LONG post, but we just did so much, and I wanted to share some information about each of the spots that we went to. I’ll be sharing my own recommendations and tips in a separate post coming soon. I also have a video up on Facebook that shows some clips of our travels. I hope you enjoyed seeing Berlin through our eyes.-1279016770161338670_IMG_0552

January Feelings – How Are You Doing?

Well January 2019 is rapidly coming to an end…let’s have a little check in shall we? How are those New Years Resolutions going for you? Have you kept them all? Broken any? Changed them completely?

January is a hard month (although some could argue that February/March can be harder). You are on a “high” of sorts for the first week or two. New Years has just happened we are full of “fresh start” this and “new beginnings” that, but then about halfway through Week 2 of January real life starts to hit. We start to struggle with the resolutions we have set, we struggle with the concept that while this is seems to be a New Year, not everything is miraculously perfect, we struggle with the bitter cold and gray that is the harsh months of winter.

Then about 3 weeks in is Blue Monday, one of the most depressing days of the year.

It’s tough, but it is something that we can work through. We can hold on to those good things, hold on to our dreams, passions, and somehow pull the strength to pull through. We can get back on track with our resolutions (if you’ve fallen off, which lets be honest, we’ve all fallen off a time or two). We can make it through.

It may seem silly, but January can be hard.

For me, this January has been an interesting one. I’ve definitely struggled a little bit, which was not something I was entirely expecting. We’ve spent the bulk of January on vacation visiting family. We dealt with a heartbreaking loss followed by two weeks of very little sunshine and now bitterly cold temperatures (as well as dealing with a vicious cold virus running around everyone in the house-including all the kids). We’ve been pretty much housebound for most of the time we’ve been here between the weather, temps, and sickness.

It’s been a unique kind of tough.

I know I shouldn’t be complaining about all of this. We are very blessed to be able to have this time to relax, be with family, and have a bit of a break. I have thoroughly enjoyed every bit of time that I’ve gotten to see extended family (even with the extenuating circumstances), and enjoyed watching our boys play with all of their cousins. It’s been a fun time, but I’ve also missed the chances to get outside, feel the sun beat through the windows all day long (even though it would get really hot), and be able to run outside whenever we wanted to.

This is a very common theme throughout this month and from what I am seeing, with the winter kicking it into high gear across the globe, seems to be harder than previous winters.

So what can we do to combat these feelings?

I always start with some sort of physical movement. There are plenty of indoor physical activities that you can do, whether it be yoga, a quick light cardio, weights, or just getting up and walking around the house. Some sort of physical activity will do a wonder of good for your body and your mind.

The next thing that I like to focus on even more intently is what we are putting into our bodies. It is so easy to feed your emotions, to grab the quick snack, the unhealthy option, but so often that will make the problems worse. I always find my mind clearer and my mood brighter when I reach for some fruit instead of a candy bar. Hell, even choosing popcorn over chips might make a difference.

And finally, make sure that you are taking time to do one thing you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be long, doesn’t have to be something productive, but just one thing that you enjoy. Take 15 minutes everyday just for whatever that is. For me, it is writing. I find myself feeling better if I just take a chance to sit down and write everything out. I also really enjoy reading (although this is a given) and I make sure that I spend a decent amount of time every evening getting some reading done.

Do you have any tips for dealing with these feelings? Leave them below!

A Cuppa Cosy Heads International – Vacation Time

Good morning! I figured I would give you a chatty little update on how our move is going (the real how our move is going, not a fluffy sugar coated answer). I know that I have been getting a lot of advice and I want to share what I’ve found to be helpful in the hopes that it may help someone else.

First off, I want to clarify some things.

 

  1. We are moving due to my husbands job. My tidbits go between specifics relating to that and general information that is good to know.
  2. Currently in our move process we are on vacation at our In Laws. We planned about a 3-4 week vacation in between the move to see our family before heading out of the country.

Our timeline has been about a span of 8 months (ish) from the earliest time we got an inkling that we could be moving overseas until now. It started with a phone call and an email. My recommendation to anyone out there who is potentially moving out of the country is to bank on enough time. Sure, you can move at the drop of the hat and make it work, but having a good amount of time on our side has been a big help.

We started with medical. Getting checked out by doctors, verifying if we needed any shots or tests done that are specific to where we are going (there weren’t) and getting any prescriptions updated. This is always the best place to start because if there is anything that you do end up needing to do, you have plenty of time to do it.

Once our medical stuff was done and we were cleared to go (meaning we got approval through his work to move, and got their paperwork), came the process of setting up our actual work. This is the bulk of the move process and it means A LOT. There is so much to sort through, to figure out, to plan for.

I made immediate use of Social Media. Getting into contact with folks that we knew who had lived overseas, joining Facebook groups for the area we are heading, talking to people who had just recently made this type of move. In some ways it became overwhelming (as there is just so much information from so many different sources), but it was a big help. In fact, because of Social Media we know exactly what we are going into in terms of housing.

I highly recommend that you do the same when you are moving somewhere you are unfamiliar with. Social media can be very effective when you are trying to figure out what exactly you are moving to. With that being said, also be aware that what you are finding (or being told) may not apply to your specific situation. Also, people will bring their own bias into what they are saying. Just keep an open mind while you are taking advantage of this.

Among all of the things that we needed to account for, the actual moving and shipping of our house hold goods, car, and personal belongings has been the easiest part of our move (ironically enough).

**At this point I’ll further clarify that my husband is in the military and most of the shipping, plane travel, and such has been organized by them. We handle the actual company and day hours, but they do more of that portion of it. If you would like to me to do a post specifically dedicated to that and organizing all of that, please let me know. **

We slowly (over a period of 3 months or so) worked through our home; getting rid of/selling what we didn’t want or couldn’t take, determining what would stay behind in storage, what would actually go with us. In a way it is hard to do this as we don’t know what our space will look like in our new home, but we’ve just decided to take 90% of our belongings with us.

We checked the guidelines for our packed and carry on luggage and found out the standard answer- each person can have two checked baggage (more is extra cost) as well as the standard one carry on and a personal bag. For our family, we were allotted 8 bags total (plus any carry ons).

I think the hardest point of the move was the Holiday’s. We were in kind of a holding cycle where it was too far out to pack anything, but we had finished what we needed to do prior to movers coming. It was one of those times where you feel like you need to be doing something, you want to be doing something, you are ready for the move, BUT there isn’t anything you can do. This was a period of a few weeks and honestly was probably the worst few weeks of the move itself (as of now, I can’t tell you what the next few months will be like). I got really short tempered during this time and was just ready for everything to start happening. It felt like we were just waiting and waiting.

I don’t know if these types of updates really help, or provide any insight in any way, but I want to have them for my own reflection and memories. I’ll do a couple more updates as we go along as well.