Life in Europe – 1 Year In

Where to even begin with this post?! I mean, seriously…where do I even start? It’s been a year. We’ve been here a year. Well technically it’ll be a year on Friday, but still…a whole year. It’s hard to wrap my mind around.

A year ago, we stepped on a flight leaving out of Baltimore (after a flight from KY to MD) and into, at the time, the unknown. 8 hours later (or something like that) we stepped off the plane on a whole new continent that we hadn’t been to before, in a new country, ready for a new adventure. And an adventure it has been.

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Our first 5 months here consisted of living in a hotel, traveling (A LOT), and trying to learn our way around the customs and traditions of Germany. Things like stores being closed on Sundays, paying for restrooms, paying for water at restaurants, the dinners out that last hours, and driving as fast as we “like” on the autobahn (which isn’t as true or fun as you would think) were all new to us. After 5 ½ months in a hotel apartment, we got a house. A spacious 3 bedroom + to make all our own (well except for no painting, no major construction, etc.). We spent the rest of the year “settling in”. A year later and I feel like we finally feel settled, feel a part of our little community, have good friends that we can count on, and have things figured out.

And traveling. We’ve traveled more in the past year than I think we have in the span of our lives. We’ve learned more history, more culture, more information in the past year than ever before. We’ve seen the not so good parts of history up close, seen the gorgeous scenery of several countries, and have had one incredible trip after another. This first year taught us, more than anything, how to adapt, how to go with the flow, how to work with what we have. And, as much as it may seem like an “on the go” lifestyle, we’ve really slowed down in a way. We’ve stopped and smelled the roses for lack of a better phrase. We’ve taken so much more time as a family, exposing not only ourselves, but our children to different ways of living. One of the most incredible things was my older son telling us, at 4 years old, about The Colosseum and what used to happen. At 4 years old.

We’ve traveled to 11 countries, visited 14 castles, we’ve seen more churches than I can even count, seen the Tulips in The Netherlands, the Tower of London, the Dachau Concentration Camps, the filming locations for The Sound of Music, The Pantheon and Ancient Rome, and so, so much more. We’ve been to Oktoberfest, a whopping 7 cities (some of which had multiple within the city) Christmas Markets, and numerous cultural festivals and events. We’ve really tried to be involved and be a part of the culture in Germany. To celebrate with them, mourn with them, understand their history, culture, and what is important to them in life.

Even with all of that, we are still just living our life. We live our everyday lives. My husband goes to work in the morning, our oldest is starting school (just preschool, but still), both boys go to playgroup, I read and write every day, and we chat with friends over coffee or dinner. We just happen to be in Germany. I think this might be when I just get mind boggled the most. When I’m making that afternoon cup of tea or curling up in the evenings with my family. When I look at my backyard and it hits me…we are in Germany. This is when I count my blessings.

It’s hard to believe that we have our “home” days. That we aren’t always out adventuring, discovering new places, seeing more and more. I think that’s kind of the strange assumption that is made when you see someone who is able to move to a foreign country for a few years- that they are always going to be traveling. But that is just not the case for us. For us we have to have that down time. Not only do work and our boys make that a necessity, but it’s also just a quirk to us. We are homebodies by nature and so we usually need to have a little bit of home time in between all the travel, and it can’t just be a couple nights. Plus, there is adventure right in our backyard. There is so much to do and see right nearby us that it makes our home time weekends still full of fun.

This first year in Germany has been an adjustment, a whirlwind, an adventure. I can’t wait to see what the next two bring us.

Round the Kettle Ep. 22- Entering February (finally!)

Oh hi. It’s been a while since I’ve done a Round the Kettle chatty post. They are still happening (as if you were really worried ha-ha), but I really felt the “workload” of the Christmas Season at the end of November and through December. I didn’t want to inundate your feed and email boxes with a ridiculous amount of posts, so I let them go until after the New Year past. This is probably going to be a “thing” that I do every year while we are in Europe. There is just so much to do and see around Christmas Season that I want to share, that they just aren’t possible.

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Let’s start with a little catch up…how are you doing?

So, a brief catch up…as you will now know we spent our New Years in Rome on a weeklong holiday that still seems just so surreal in my mind. I can’t believe that I can say that I’ve been to Rome…just like I can say I’ve been to Scotland, London, Dover, The Netherlands…I mean the list goes on. It’s even more surreal and reflective as we are starting to come up on our one-year mark of living in Germany (that post is coming up this coming week). It’s funny because we are just living our normal lives, day to day, and then going on these incredible adventures that we only dreamed about.

I digress…

January passed by as January always seems to, dragging by, giving all of us that New Year’s funk at the end and making us wonder…will February ever come?! Don’t worry, February is here, and we’ve all survived. In a way January wasn’t too bad for me this year, a couple rough spots here and there, but overall pretty good. But February? I anticipate February being a rough one. We’ve got quite a few changes coming our way starting on Monday and I just feel like settling into a new groove is going to be…interesting. Our oldest is starting his preschool program, my husband has been much busier with work in January and into February, and I’m trying to figure out what our “normal” is going to be moving forward once again. It’s all good things, but it just means we’ve got a bit of a transition to make.

With that being said, I am going to be taking a little step back from the blog for a couple weeks in February. This week there will be posts as normal, and then there will be two weeks where I am not going to have any blog posts going up. I will be active as normal on IG/FB, but in terms of blog content, it’ll be quiet. I really try to take a week or two weeks “off” a couple times of year as I find that it helps me quiet my mind and refresh my brain. I’ve been writing pretty consistently for a few months now without a break (I posted a 14 posts in December where I normally average 9-11 posts a month) and I really just need to take a minute, not stare at a blank word document, and just breathe. February tends to actually be a pretty good time to do this as it is slow and quiet as it is (we aren’t traveling at all this month) and with these couple things changing at home, I need to just be able to focus on life.

How was your January? Did you have a good month or are you just ready for February?

 

2019 – A Year in Review

How have we already reached the 30th of December? It seems like the year was just starting yesterday. And we aren’t even going to get into the fact that this is the end of a decade…what?! I’m still trying to wrap my mind around that one.

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2019 was quite the year over here at A Cuppa Cosy. We did an international move, lived out of a hotel and 6 suitcases for 5 ½ months, visited (as of the date of this post) 10 new to us countries, and experienced new highs and lows with two very rambunctious and active {not so} little boys. Looking back on our year for this post it’s hard to believe that this is our life now (we are going to be visiting The Vatican…what?!), but here we are.

In terms of highs, our move tops the list. In February we moved to a little spot in the German state of Bavaria. We left behind hectic, heavily populated D.C. for the rural countryside life. It was an absolute dream come true and we have well and truly made a home here. The people have been incredibly welcoming as we struggle to learn the language (German is no joke) and I feel like we have overall adjusted really well. For all the good that moving to Germany has done, living in a hotel for 5 ½ months was really hard at times. It’s tough not having your own belongings, having two boys who are used to a certain amount of space and who have a never-ending amount of energy, as well as not being able to have things as we like them.

Another high point of 2019 is the sheer amount of traveling that we have done. As I said, we visited 10 new countries and have really learned the art of short weekend trips (but we’ve also mastered long term travel too). My top place that we’ve visited is Scotland (is anyone surprised? Blog posts are HERE and HERE), followed very closely by Austria, which I’ve now visited twice (HERE and HERE). London was a dream come true (blog post HERE) as was seeing the Tulip Fields at Keukenhof (HERE). So far we haven’t been anywhere that we’ve not liked, although I wasn’t the biggest fan of Amsterdam (still enjoyed my time, just not the top of the list, blog post HERE). I’m definitely looking forward to more travel over the next two years.

We have experienced countless cultural events here in Germany including both Oktoberfest (HERE) and a Krampus show (blog post to come), but also the little festivals in between for random celebrations and Christmas Markets (you’ve seen all of these, but my top two are Gutenek and Dresden).

The boys grew…A LOT over the past year. Colton has really come into his own with his words, his likes/dislikes, and his energy level. He went to his first couple days of preschool (getting evaluated to determine if he needs/could use preschool due to speech) and he loved them. He handled drop off’s like a champ and looks forward to going every time we go. He has really started speaking properly and we are loving seeing his little personality shine (although sometimes he is a LITTLE too much like his father haha). Andrew has really started to come into his own too. He has a voice and definitely knows how to use it, as well as learning how to wrestle with big brother (and win). He has been loving going to our local playgroup and has become such a chatty social little boy. He still has a really sweet and soft side that comes out every time he comes up to give hugs or tries to help with everything. The time is passing all too quickly.

We had one really low point in the year, that I have kind of talked about, but also kind of haven’t. I had one month that I just struggled, that I just broke down. We were still adjusting to the schedule, had just come off of our long Summer Holiday, and I just really struggled the entire month. I had a couple of low days where I was incredibly low energy, crying, and in a dark place for a bit. Thankfully things balanced out and the rest of the year has been great. I say this to show that while our life is incredible here and we are so grateful, it hasn’t been a year of sunshine and daisies.

One of my intentions for 2019 was to be open. Be open to new opportunities, new adventures and to say yes more. I think that I’ve actually really accomplished that. I’ve tried to be more spontaneous this year, and just go with whatever happens as it happens. My word was Adventure and we have most definitely had some of those. Overall, I think this was one of our best years and I know that we are in store for so many more.

So, that was basically our 2019 in a nutshell. A move, lots of traveling, a very happy couple and two wild boys. Our not-so-perfect perfect life.

Feeling Settled

Ah…home. We are home at last and home for a while…at least until next month. I can’t tell you how good it feels to be home. To be in our home, with our furniture, our bed, our kitchen. In fact, it feels so good it has me reflecting back to how I’ve actually felt over the past few months. That and our new neighbors and I have been discussing the overseas move process (they have just recently arrived).

Regardless of how you move, where you move, when you move, doing an overseas move is tough. And honestly, the hardest part is that everyone on the outside looking in tells you how great it is, what an opportunity, you must be so thrilled, etc. While that is true and is the correct assumption in most cases, most people on the outside overlook the actually move portion. We (myself included) all focus on “OMG you are going to live in Europe, that’s so awesome! You’ll get to see all these things, you’ll get to do so much, such a great opportunity” and yet there is also the whole concept of experiencing culture shock, upheaval of your routine, time difference, being apart from family and friends, looking for a home in a foreign country, not even to begin to mention the amount of time it takes for your household goods to come.

We’ve been lucky, I’ll not deny that. I feel like my outlook and my attitude has really been a game changer (notes for future moves!), along with the fact that we weren’t staying in a standard hotel room, but a hotel 1-bedroom apartment. We’ve also done a bunch of traveling (as much as we reasonably could and then some), BUT I’m not going to try and tell you that this has been a walk in the park. And honestly, I think the thing that I struggled with the most was not having a home. Not having our things. Not having that “we’re settled” feeling.

When you don’t have that home base, that place that you know you are going back to, your own bed, your own furniture, it makes a world of difference in your psyche.

I’ve come to realize that having the home feeling, the home comforts is important. It doesn’t have to be a lot, it can be one or two things, it can simply be a place, but we all need to have that feeling. I’ve heard a lot about “home is who you’re with, not where you are” and yes there is a large amount of that is true. We had our little family and that was a lot, but still, there is something to be said for having YOUR OWN PLACE. Somewhere that is yours. Somewhere that you can have your own belongings, deal with your own food, clean in the way you’d like to clean (whether it’s doing it yourself, hiring someone, whatever).

So, we are finally getting that feeling of being settled. Of having our home. Of being able to cook full meals, clean every day, spread out the way we want to, let the boys carry on how they want to, and just generally relax. While our home isn’t fully done, we are still waiting on all of the wall décor (another story for another day), it feels like home. I feel like I can breathe. We’ve been doing playdates, figuring out our routines, trying to see how everything fits together, and just overall enjoying our time.

While we may not be traveling this month, or until the end of next month (hopefully!), there is a certain level of bliss of “just being able to stay home”.

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.

A Cuppa Cosy Heads International – A Home of Our Own

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This picture pretty much summarizes my feelings today 🙂

Today is THE DAY. The day that we finally get the keys to our home. The day that our move to Germany becomes really real. The day that we can start to truly feel settled and home in our area.

If you haven’t been following along with our adventures, earlier this year we embarked on an international move from America to Germany. We’ve spent close to 4 ½ months in the hotel at this point, and have been without our “home comforts” (aka all of our stuff…) 5 ½ months. We’ve been incredibly lucky with our hotel situation, being in a hotel apartment (basically a 1 bedroom apartment) and being able to travel at every opportunity.

*You can read all those posts HERE, HERE, and HERE.*

Overall, our hotel time hasn’t not been that bad. We’ve had a couple rough spots here and there, but, as with anything else, it is all about your attitude. We’ve been able to stay positive and look at all the good things about our time in the hotel and that has helped us…not want to go crazy in such a small space with our things.

Even though it has been a positive experience, I’m very happy to be leaving. We got the opportunity about a month ago to walk through our house and get an idea of floor plans, location, and just a sense of what we were working with. Since that point it’s been very much a time of just wanting to be in our house for us and for the boys. Our older son, Colton, asks just about everyday if we are going to the house and they are ready to have the room to stretch their legs (not to mention finally get all of their toys).

Honestly, for me I am just looking forward to getting our new home set up, arranging everything just so, and getting that “finally settled” feeling. I am looking forward to cooking full, healthy meals and on the cooler days baking. I’ve been missing being able to clean the way I want to clean, and having the space to have a good full morning routine. I’ve missed late evenings on our couch, with an evening cuppa, and a show on tv/book in my hand.

So, today is our big day. All of our household items start coming in tomorrow and the next day, and we will be spending the next week (or so) getting everything set up and settled. We are on a bit of a time crunch due to travel, but I’m also just one of those people who just does everything right then and there (can’t rest until it is all set up and done). I CAN’T WAIT.

There will be one final post in this series, once the dust has finally settled to wrap up all of our experiences/ give tips for folks who are looking at the same type of move.

March In Travel

Good morning! We have reached the end of March, say what?!, and it is time to recap our travel over the past Month! It has been a month of exploration for us, both “close to home” and a long weekend away. All of it exiting and full of new adventures!

The first weekend we ventured out to a semi nearby town called Amberg. I think that at this time this is probably my favorite city that is near us. It is just so quaint and has the perfect combinations of olde world and modern, crowded but still quiet with cobblestone lined streets and little shops and bakeries. There is so much to just explore by walking through the streets and a wide variety of shops to be found. We spent a lovely day here.

The next weekend we decided to stick to somewhere that we already ventured to for two reasons: 1) We needed to pick up some things and knew that it had the stores we needed and 2) It gave us a chance to experience the train system. The train system is really user friendly here and is fairly straightforward when you are making those easy commuter trips. We boarded and road for about 30-40 minutes in to Regensburg. Didn’t have to worry about finding parking, paying for parking, or navigating in and out of the city. Once we were done with our shopping and exploring (because we did still head over to a couple spots we hadn’t been to yet) we simply boarded the train back home.

The third weekend in March (St. Patricks Day weekend), we headed to Berlin for the weekend! I’ve already done a whole post breaking our trip down to inredible detail, chock full of pictures that you can read HERE and I’ll be do a recommendation/tips post in the next couple weeks for Berlin. I won’t touch on it too much, but I really loved this trip. It was a last minute decision and whirlwind 72 hours, but it was so much FUN. I think this is the way to travel and I can’t wait to do more of it in the coming years.

This past weekend we made a very important, but very difficult visit to Dachau Concentration Camp. I am not going to go into too much of it here as I have a full blog post prepared to post about it, but I’ll just say this-No words. There are no words.

We do have plans for the upcoming weekend, but I don’t know how they will all end up working out. Whatever we do end up doing I will share over on IG/Facebook, and will try to remember to include in my April Travel Wrap Up.