I See You

I see you. You, the mom putting out the picture of happiness. Radiating happiness. The mom that everyone thinks has her sh*t together. The mom who seemingly does it all. Mrs. Cleaver, caring for her husband, children, and home.

The mom who is the look of happy perfection and yet is crying out inside.

I see you. You, the mom crying silently in the car on the way home. The mom crying to herself, exhausted from being the one thread that holds everything together. The mom who gives until she has nothing left to give because she has no other choice.

The mom who wants so desperately to be there for everyone else, to be that happy bubbly person that she knows she is, but loses sight of her own needs in the process.

I see you. I see you because I am you.

It’s a hard thing to share. I’m the kind of person who loves to be that “light in the darkness”. I love to live a life full of happiness, who doesn’t? I love to lift others help, help them find those little positive moments, to be that person who is there for them when they need it. I don’t like to focus on the hard times, or talk about how the past month was a tough one, when I am now feeling better and things are looking up. I don’t want to bring those times up (aside from the random in the moment posting about them), because I don’t want to return to them. I don’t want to bring that back into my headspace, but if we don’t then we won’t learn for the next time. If we don’t share, others won’t know. I think it is equally important to share when times are good and when times are…well not so good.

Life is full of ups and downs for everyone and it is important to remember that even the people who look like they have their sh*t together still have their hard days too.

I also feel a lot of guilt when talking about what “hard times” looks like to me. I know that I am incredibly blessed to be able to stay home with my children, to have a roof over my head, to have food on my table, to not have to overly stress about our budget (although we do have one), to not have to worry about every little thing. I recognize that I am incredibly blessed to be able to travel with my family, show our kids the world beyond our town. I’m blessed to have a loving and caring husband (or partner if that’s your case), who will help our whenever and however he can.

I know that I am incredibly blessed in this life (although that doesn’t negate the hard work that I put in and have put in), but that doesn’t mean that I do not have hard times. Hard times look different to everyone, just like anything else in life. It is important not to downplay or minimize someone else’s hart times just because they look different than ours.

In August, my hard times specifically related to being mentally over exhausted. Our July and August have been non stop on the “doing things”, “people” and “noise” fronts and I just couldn’t catch a break to have an hour or two to myself. We talk about self-care (something I will be talking about this month) and how important it is, but sometimes we forget. I preach it, but wasn’t getting a chance to take my own advice. It’s a season of life and this past month has taught me a couple of things.

Also, in this time period, my husband’s work picked up quite a bit, he was in and out a little bit more (and had a long trip at the start of the month) and our boys reacted to that. Andrew became extremely clingy (to be expected), freaking out if I disappeared from his site for more than a minute. Again, a season of life and something that we are working on with him.

I say all this now, share all this now, because I’ve been really bad at sharing it in the moment. I hit a patch of about a week when I just retreated. Outwardly I was still that same person, but when we weren’t around others I hid inside. I carried on as best I could, but often times would end up crying at night, from being so tired, so worn thin. Feeling like the worn thread holding a piece of rope together.

I didn’t share in the moment for two reasons, both of which have been stated here. I don’t like feeling like this- no one does. I don’t want to bring myself down even more and bring others down. I also felt that guild and shame. I didn’t want to put my “not so important” problems above others who have what I would consider “real problems” (which, as I’ve stated above is utterly ridiculous). I retreated so far that I really just didn’t want to talk at all.

I don’t know what actually pulled me out to be honest. I cried. A lot. I wrote in my journal. A lot. I tried to “unpack” the things that were really bothering me. What was really getting me into this low spot. And, if I really think about it, it was probably a combination of things that just happened at the same time and reminded me of the good things. Then, I focused on those good things and over the process of a couple days started to feel better.

So, what’s the point of this whole post? It’s basically just me saying I see you. I see you, in the happy times, in the hard times and all the times in between. I see you and I want to help you. Tell me, talk to me; talk it out, write it out, cry it out, whatever you need to do.

Round the Kettle Ep 18 – Autumn is Here

It may be 76 degrees F when I am posting this, but I am calling it…Autumn is here and it’s here to stay. Aside from this random, almost “hot” day, we’ve had upper 60’s, some days grey some days sunny, both with that crisp morning air. I’ve started seriously switching my wardrobe around to be full of sweaters instead of tanks and you can just feel the changing season all around.

Autumn is MY season and I’m not just saying that to be basic or anything like that. I’ve always found comfort in the changing leaves, the weather shifting cooler, and the return of cozy long sweaters. There’s that feeling of comfort, of cozyness, of staying in that just really resonates deep in my soul. To top that off, I am looking forward to spending this Autumn (and the next couple) in the German countryside. Our area is already breathtaking, I can only imagine seeing the landscape painted with the reds, yellows, and oranges of the changing leaves. Seeing that Autumn sun peak through the trees on our drives. I cannot wait.

Are you getting any doses of Autumn?

Other than the dream of Autumn, we’ve been all about getting out of our house, getting involved in some of the local events, hanging out with friends and neighbors, and making some exciting purchases. We spent last weekend doing all things German Fest season- getting our dirndl and lederhosen, spending some time at our little town festival, and figuring out Oktoberfest (still haven’t figured that out haha). We followed that up with a Lazy Day at Home, which was the perfect combination.

We’ve been spending most of our weeks either out of the house, or hosting playdates. The boys have found their “friends” (like at that age everyone is a friend, but they definitely have their “best friends” that they play with regularly) and thankfully I’ve found some friends with the moms. It’s been good all around and it’s been really nice to have the freedom to our days. I know I’ve talked about that before, but it’s just been so good for our entire family.

We don’t really have too many plans for the rest of the month, my husband’s schedule picks back up for a little while here so we will be putting our noses down and just trying to get things done and keep some sense of normal. We do have a couple of day trips planned to semi local events around us that we are going to go to with friends to keep us busy, but overall it’s going to be another homey bit of time for us.

How are things with you? How has the start of your September been?

Camera Courtesy

Alright, I’m going to be blunt in this post. I’m probably going to be a little rude and I’m probably going to rub some people the wrong way. Basically, this whole post is just one long rant that my husband (who takes most of the pictures you see OF ME while traveling) would agree with…you’ve been warned.

***A little precursor here- this post does not apply to specific “photo spots” (because I know those exist), to travel photos taken in quieter spots that don’t have as many people, OR to those who handle camera courtesy :)***

In July we went on our Summer Holiday. By now you’ve heard all about it and probably want me to stop talking about it ha-ha. While we were traveling, I came to be able to put a name to one of my biggest travel pet peeves…Camera/Photo Courtesy.

I’m a huge photo person. I LOVE taking pictures, I LOVE capturing moments, views, and everything in between. I take a million photos of EVERYTHING. I take a million photo’s because you never know what will end up being the “perfect shot” and what will end up looking the best overall. I take photos of seemingly random moments, random places and the like, BUT I also take photo’s at and of popular tourist destinations. Who doesn’t? Who doesn’t want a picture in front of Buckingham Palace or on the skylight of The Tower Bridge or really anywhere else? I get it.

Let me say this real fast- I will not begrudge someone wanting to get a photo. Hell, I will not begrudge someone wanting to get the perfect photo. I get that we live in an age where it’s not just getting a photo of yourself at or in front of the tourist spot, but getting the PERFECT photo in the PERFECT place, with the PERFECT lighting.

Here’s what I don’t get…why we have to then ruin someone else’s chance of getting their photo because we are too busy being wrapped up in our own PERFECT photo. Example: I was up in The Tower Bridge walking through the ramps and saw multiple people taking multiple different photo’s (getting taken of themselves) while not letting others get a chance to take a photo. As a blogger, I get the whole it takes a lot of photos to get the PERFECT one, trust me, I get that.

BUT when I am at a popular tourist destination, and there is a high volume of people trying to get pictures, I try to get in and out with my camera just as quickly as possible. That means one, two photo’s tops and hopefully they are good. If not, oh well. It’s a courtesy to others who are trying to capture that spot too.

When you are in a spot where there is a line of people who want the same picture, it is not fair to that line of people to have you taking 20 photos. Think about when you are at a theme park. You get one chance at a picture and there is something special about that. Are the pictures always great? No. Are they always going to be worthy of your IG Feed? No. But when you have a line of people all waiting for the same thing, it isn’t fair to rob the time away from others.

Not only that, but sometimes people don’t even want pictures (I know, novel concept), but quite simply just want to see what you’re trying to take a picture of! Sometimes people just want to experience a moment rather than try and capture it on camera. For me personally, I balance the two out choosing to take a smaller amount of photo’s in certain areas.

Another thing, if you are clogging walkways or roads or such while trying to capture that perfect photo, that’s not fair to others either. I mean, c’mon! I have done the whole take a thousand pictures to get the perfect one and often times (not all the time though), the best ones are one of the earliest pictures I’ve captured.

I’m not trying to be a whiney person over here (which means I probably come off that way), lord knows there are much bigger problems in the world, but this has to be one of my biggest complaints that I’ve had while we’ve traveled.  I feel like in the age we live in the courtesy factor kind of went out the window. I figure as someone who is a massive photo lover, who loves capturing moments and places, if I get annoyed by it, I can’t be the only one.

I’m curious to know, how do you handle camera courtesy? Did you agree with anything that I’ve said? Do you think a completely different way? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Kehlsteinhaus – A Day Trip

Over Labor Day Weekend we decided that instead of doing a long weekend away, that we would stick close to home and take a day trip or two. Now, we’ve been to Berchtesgaden before. We went on a long weekend back in May, but we were not able to do Kehlsteinhaus, The Eagle’s Nest, due to weather. It was on our list to go back to go see the area, but it’s a trip that you really have to monitor the weather for and be willing to just up and go when the window is right.

So, Labor Day Weekend became our weekend to see The Eagle’s Nest. The weather was supposed to be sunny and warm, clear skies except for maybe an hour or two for a storm. Since most of the day would be clear, we just decided to get up super early and make an attempt to do it. For us, it is about a 3-hour drive to get there, so totally doable for a day trip AND the Eagle’s Nest itself is a shorter visit, depending on you of course, so easy enough to fit into a day trip.

Some information about The Eagles’s Nest before we get into our trip.

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The Eagle’s Nest was built as a symbol of power and was a location where decisions were made in regard to Hitler’s plans for destruction. The house itself was built at the top of a mountain right over a sheer rock wall. The mountain was in some ways destroyed during the building of this house, having to cut through the terrain for a road and then equipping the mountain with an elevator to get up to the house. Where the house is actually located was known at the time as “the summit of all power”.

The Eagle’s Nest is one of the few buildings that WAS NOT destroyed post war which may lead to its popularity, along with it playing a prominent part in many US War Films (Band of Brothers anyone?). For all of its popularity, Hitler rarely actually visited the house, they only have 17 verifiable accounts of him being there.

These days,  The Eagle’s Nest is a restaurant that you can eat in on your lovely day their, which I actually recommend doing!

We arrived at The Eagle’s Nest around 9:15-9:30AM and I would recommend the same. You’ll want to get their early not only because the views and it being so clear, but also because of parking. Parking goes fast and, while you can park on the road (there is a lot of parking), the lower parking lot is definitely the better spot to be at.

You can purchase your ticket ahead of time or on site, we chose on site, so we had a little more freedom with our time in the morning (traffic, construction, etc.), and we had no problems getting a time close after purchase. To get to the elevator you can hike or ride the bus up. We have two young kids, so chose to do the bus. It was about a 20-minute ride and was absolutely beautiful. You get a good chance to see the entire area from different elevations.

Once you get to the tunnel and elevator entrance you need to give your return time to the bus organizer. Now, we planned for a total of 2 hours and that was more than enough time. That gave us time to leisurely look around the different overlooks and have a little lunch before needing to head back down. Depending on what you want to do (spend time sitting up there taking the beauty in, eat a longer meal, whatever) I think 2 hours is more than enough. If you do come down a little earlier than you expected you can speak with the bus drivers about taking an earlier bus.

Now, you get to go to the house, turned restaurant.

There are a couple of items of note within the house ( a fireplace, the sunroom, and a timeline of the build and who has been there), but the real beauty lays in what you see outside. The views from the mountain side are incredible. On a clear day you can see through to Salzburg (and they have the binocular bits set up so you can pay to really see it), you can see through the valleys of the Alps, and you can see Konigsee and the lake system nearby.

While we were there I was taken aback by just how, once again, stunning the views and beauty of this particular spot were and how this was also the spot where decisions were made that caused unspeakable hurt and terror. It’s such a hard idea to come to grips with and while doing a little extra research, I learned that in the case of The Eagle’s Nest, that was the point. The beautiful setting was intended to shadow all of the horrible actus. It was to give a pretty face at a time when many were starting to question as the war intensified.

IMG_9120We had a lovely little lunch on the restaurant terrace and then made our way back down to the Dokumentation Obersalzberg. This is what we would call a museum that talks about National Socialism, the major players in Hitler’s regime as well as the Obersalzberg area. Something I didn’t know is that The Eagle’s Nest and the Obersalzberg area was much more than just The Eagle’s Nest. There was an entire network of “high players” that had buildings or homes in the region. This center talks through the image that they tried to portray in the Obersalzberg and Berchtesgaden area along with history of the NS and World War 2 history and relics. As part of the entrance you are able to go down into the Bunker, which not only contains information about the bunker itself, but also has graffiti from the Soldiers who came through the area in WW2.

 

Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to the area in general and would recommend a stop at The Eagle’s Nest. You don’t need a full day set aside, just a few hours and it is well worth it.

Recommendations and Tips for – A Stay in Inverness

Well, we’ve come to the final recommendations and tips (and just overall final) post regarding our Summer Holiday. It’s been so much fun sharing “all of the things” with you and being able to relive some of our favorite spots. I left this one for last because Inverness just holds such a special place in my heart, in fact the entire Highlands does. It is so incredibly peaceful there and it just has a certain…way of life that really appeals to me. I definitely plan on going back one day. You can take a look at all of the things that we did while we were in Inverness HERE.

I’m actually going to start backwards and mention the one thing that we wished we could have done, visit the city of Inverness. By the time we got to this destination we were experiencing some travel fatigue, the boys were definitely exhausted, and we honestly just had a couple of light easy days. This meant that we missed out on a couple of things that we would normally have liked to do. I think if we had had one extra day or if we had started our Scotland time in Inverness it would have been a little different. So, the city of Inverness was one spot that we wished we could have gone. It’s always fun to see other cities and spots and experience the local charm of a place.

Recommendations:

Don’t stay in the city. Honestly, get out of the city and into the proper highlands. You can do this by jumping on AirBnB or looking up cottage sites in some of the smaller little towns. Not only is the area just gorgeous, but this gives you the option to actually experience the Highlands, it’s beauty and its people. We stayed at a place called Taffs Barn (which you can find on AirBnB HERE and we absolutely loved it. It was the perfect spot and if it fits your needs, I would recommend staying here. The owner is an England transplant and was so incredibly nice and welcoming to us.

Culloden Battlefield. This is such a big part of the Highlands and their history, so I would definitely recommend a stop. The exhibit is very well laid out, although you definitely are forced to pick a side and stick with it (as would the clans and people of the area when the rebellion was occurring) and it contains a lot of interesting history. Walking the battlefield is an eerie experience, but you can take a look at the stones laid out for the different clans that died at Culloden.

Loch Ness Visitor Center. I would also really highly recommend a stop here as well. There is so much more to Loch Ness than the superstition of a monster in its waters. I wasn’t aware of all the facts about the Loch and all of the different things that have actually happened there. The exhibit does a really good job of melding the mystery with the real-life events and has a really neat video exhibition as you walk the different rooms. There is no need to pre book tickets for this spot, just be prepared to potentially way depending on what time you get there.

Finally, Urquahart Castle. I’ll be blunt, I don’t know that this was really worth the entrance fee. It was really neat (you know how I feel about castles), and while I felt like the views were incredible, they were marred by the shear amount of people that come through. The views are almost better on the hike to get into the castle (pre parking lot and entrance) than at the actual castle itself. The castle has some history to it, but mostly just a couple different Lairds (Lords) and then they blew it up themselves. Also, parking is very limited, both up at the entrance and down where they re direct you to park. If you are going to go, make it early (earliest possible) and you may get lucky with light crowds and easy parking.

Tips:

I don’t have too many tips for Inverness that I haven’t said already for Edinburgh.

You’ll definitely want a car while you are in The Highlands as things are a little bit more laid out (aka it took us 30-40 minutes to get to Loch Ness from our AirBnB) and you’ll definitely want a rain jacket and slightly warmer clothing.

And that is it! That’s the end of our Summer Travels. I’m a bit bummed to have come to the end, but I’m also glad I got to share it all with you. What was your favorite stop? What will you be adding to your travel bucket list?

Round the Kettle Ep 17: Happy September!

Oh September, you absolute bliss of a month…

Hello, hello, hello! How are you? How did August treat you? It was quite the month wasn’t it?! I’m trying to sum up what August was like, but I just don’t think I really can. It was full of the highest of high’s and some really low lows. And honestly, it’s all in the past now. We are at the start of a new month and the possibilities are endless if we only take the steps. Ok, already getting a little hokey.

I struggle sometimes sharing the negative side of things. I have a whole post going up about this that will explain a lot, but also, once that rough time has passed, I don’t really want to think about it or talk about it. Which can be incredibly detrimental. I like to just move forward in a positive light and not focus on the bad that happened. It’s a good way to live life for the most part, except when you actually need to face what happened, so you don’t have the same struggles the next time.

Anyway, that was a fully cryptic way of starting out this Round the Kettle…

The first of September is my happy place. I usually mark it as the start of Autumn (even though Autumn doesn’t officially begin until closer to the end of the month), school is usually in session, the weather is slowly starting to cool down, and everything starts to turn cosy. Autumn is my favorite time of year and I literally start pulling for it the earliest days that I can. The first day we get the cooler, greyer, rainier days, I instantly get excited and start planning all of our Autumnal activities.

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The first of September is also “Back to Hogwarts” day, which, as a Harry Potter fan, is an important time lol.

What do you think? Are you one of those people who holds on to Summer for as long as you can, or do you jump right into Autumn as soon as you can?

September is shaping up to be fairly similar to August in that my husband will be in an out most of the month for work, but we are planning a little day or overnight trip at the start of the month (likely is currently or has happened when this post is going up) and a couple other fun things throughout the month. I’ve got what is also shaping up to be a fairly regular to busy blog posting schedule. Not quite the three posts a week that August was, but regular and a wide variety of topics.

Even though the month itself is shaping up to be similar, I am hoping that I’ll be in a bit better mindset and shape to handle everything. I think for August I just struggled with coming right off Moving House, Vacation, and then right into a super busy month and I just hadn’t gotten a chance to take a little bit and get my mind together. Ironically, I feel like this post (which has been written end of August…) is fairly all over the place and pretty indicative of my brain currently.

While August was a bit of a lower month for me, I did somehow manage to get a lot of reading done (there was no “somehow” to that, I read 99% of my time), reading a total of 11 books. Part of this was because I was doing a readathon, part of it was because my frame of mind just had me needing to read. The top books that I read were: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemison, Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan, and A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I’ve got quite the stack set up for September as well that I’m looking forward to. ***I am hoping to start bringing reading a little into the mix over here, nothing major as I have a whole book blog, but here and there might be nice, yes?***

Ok, so that’s me caught up. Tell me about you! How was your August? Are you September ready? Are you Autumn ready?

A Cuppa Cosy Summer Holiday 2019 – Bastogne, Luxembourg, and Heading Home

Once we finished our blissful few days in Inverness, it was time to make the trek back home to Germany. When we were planning our trip, we decided to split our return trip into three different days. This gave us a chance to somewhat take our time. It also made sense because we were coming back from the furthest part of our travel and we didn’t want to push too hard.

We spent our first night back from Inverness in Cambridge. This was the hardest day of travel as we were already pretty worn out from the 11 days of nonstop going and this was our “long haul” drive. I had a couple things picked out to look at in Cambridge if we had time, but we ended up getting to the hotel that evening and just crashing in our hotel room. We had a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant and all quickly fell asleep.

Our second day of travel on the way home was probably the most stressful. Our goal was to stop in Bastogne in the afternoon and we had specifically planned all of our times out for us to have a few hours to spend walking through the museum, seeing the town, and enjoying a little break from the car. HOWEVER, this did not end up being the case. We rose early to make it to our tunnel time at Dover, only to find out that one train had been canceled and the other trains had then been delayed about an hour to accommodate the overage from the cancelled train. We got a break from the car a bit earlier than we expected, and we spent time browsing the duty free shops, letting the boys go crazy in the kids area, and trying not to think about how much we were going to have to “book it” to get to Bastogne.

Somehow we made it to Bastogne with exactly 10 minutes to spare (last entrance was at 4:30PM, we pulled in at 4:20PM), so thankfully we were able to at least take a look at the Bastogne War Museum. I would highly recommend stopping in this museum. Not only does it have a lot of artifacts from the Battle of the Bulge, The Band of Brothers, and the Germans, but it also has some really interactive demonstrations.

There were three theatres placed throughout the museum that put you “right in the action”. Make sure that you get the audio guides from the entrance desk as that is your tour guide and be ready to devote at the very least an hour and a half to the museum. We also took a look around the memorial that is just outside and the art display right outside (I think that display changes throughout the year).

 

IMG_2870 2.jpgWe ended up getting to do a little drive through the actual town of Bastogne, including seeing an Umbrella Ceiling, which was really cool, before heading to our hotel in nearby Luxembourg. Belgium is a country that is still on our list to visit, and I definitely want to come back to Bastogne to have a little bit more time to look around.

 

 

 

We stayed the night in Luxembourg as a)it was on our route and b) we wanted to stop at the American Military Cemetery that is located in Luxembourg.

This is the cemetery that General Patton is buried in, along with several Band of Brothers and a single Female Nurse. With my husband being in the military and a major history/WW2 buff, he was determined to see the graves and cemetery while we were in the area. This also marked the last stop on our Summer Holiday.

To be honest, the three days of traveling home consisted of us being in a general state of exhaustion and desire to just be home. I think that that definitely played a role in what we did and did not end up doing, as well as the lack of “stuff” in this particular blog post. We definitely have learned that our travel limit is 10 days for this season of life and while we loved every minute of this holiday, we also learned a couple of things to implement on future trips.

So, there you have it…our Summer 2019 Holiday. Did you enjoy reading about our travels? Did you learn anything new or add any new destinations to your list of trips to take? What was your favorite part or destination? Let me know in the comments below!