No Camera’s Allowed

It’s no secret we’ve been doing A LOT of travel over these past few months and that is not something that will be changing anytime soon. It’s also no secret that I’m a major camera/picture junkie. I LOVE taking pictures.  I’ve always got my camera out from everyday little moments (seriously, my older son just looked so cute playing with a baseball bat in the store), to bigger vacation moments (this scene was just dreamy!). I’m one of THOSE people. I love having all of the memories to look back on, little snippets of our day to day to have for memories. This is especially heightened when we travel.

I’ve been able to capture photo’s at almost every place that we’ve traveled (every place’s exterior at least), but I have noticed that there are some locations that will not allow camera’s or photos. The most memorable were Neuschwanstein/Hohenschwangau, Berchtesgaden Salt Mines, Mozart’s Birthplace, and Salzburg Cathedral doesn’t encourage them. Each place has their own vast reasons as to why and I am not here to talk about the reasons (frankly I can guess, but just respected their rules).

With that though, it got me thinking. Every time I pick up my camera I pull myself ever so slightly out of the moment. Every time I go to take a picture of a place, rather than just take a minute in that place, I pull myself away. Yes, I’ve got a beautiful picture to hang in my home, to remind me of the wonderful places we’ve been, but I also have then taken a few minutes out of our time there (just for one single picture, not for all of them), to take the picture rather than simply enjoy the scenery.

I’ve been pretty good at balancing pictures and being in the moment at every place that we’ve traveled, but in places where “No Camera Allowed” is displayed, I honestly get a little thrill out of it. A chance to just look, to not feel the need to capture everything I want (which is A LOT). I am able to focus more on what I’m looking at, take a little more time at each point in a tour, and while I don’t know if the enjoyment level is really any more or less (as like I’ve said I love taking pictures) it’s definitely different.

I’ve even noted this in my everyday. As I said, I’m always taking pictures in our everyday. Our kids are actually picking up on that, and will say cheese at any time or even pose sometimes haha. I love seeing what we were up to at various times of our weeks and it’s really funny to look back on. I’ve been trying to get better over the past year or two about just taking a step back from being like that, for a similar reason than the one’s I’ve stated above.

Now, let me make something clear…this picture bit has really nothing to do with Social Media or with Blogging. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. Always wanting to capture moments in pictures and in words, rather just being in the moment. This is nothing new to me. Social Media and my Blog has given me a way to share that with others, but it is not the root of what I am talking about.

I also want to be clear that I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this. I think that it is great and I fully plan on continuing on being that crazy picture person, BUT I definitely have enjoyed a bit of a reprieve every now and again and I think I need to do that more.

Looking through the lense or viewfinder can be incredible and you can see things and people in different ways, but It doesn’t really compare to just putting the camera down and being present at that moment. So here’s to less camera time and more in person/in the moment time.

How Do We Handle The What If

You know that little voice in the back of your head? The little one that only comes out at times when you least need it. The one that offers negative opinions, snide comments and criticisms. That little voice is a right old arsehole (yep-went there) and we all have one.

So, let’s put a little scenario together. You have just made a rather big life decision. You’ve decided to…I don’t know…start a podcast or a blog (because this has to be believable/realistic, but not purchase related). You’ve written your first blog post or recorded your first podcast and have everything set to upload and publish. Everything is done it is just a matter for the day to come that everyone can read or listen to your words.

That little voice creeps in…”What if no one reads it”…”What if someone listens and doesn’t like what I have to say”…”What if they expect more from me than I can deliver”…”What if I am absolute rubbish at this”…And on and on it goes.

How do we handle that? What brings this little voice on?

Is it a lack of self confidence? A desire to please people? A fear of failure? Is it caring a little too much about what people think of us?

Is it all of the above?

I like to think that I am a fairly confident person, that while I want to help people and make them happy, I can’t and not everyone will like me. I’m ok with all of that. I like to think that I’ve overcome a lot of my fear of failure (which I can talk about separately if you’d like). Yet, I still deal with that little “What If Arsehole”. “She’s” a rude voice right in the back of my head that has me questioning myself from time to time.

How do I handle “her”? I don’t. “She” asks me questions like the above all the time. I overthink decisions, I second guess myself, and on occasion “she” has gotten the best of me. I would say 80% of the time I just try to ignore “her”. I try to push further because most of the time “she” comes out when I am on the right track. When I am getting ready to do something awesome (if I can say that), but every once in a while “she” does win. This is a time when I don’t have an answer.

I’m wondering if you have an answer or how you handle your “What If Arsehole”. Where do you think “she” comes from? How do you tackle the self doubt? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Round the Kettle Ep. 11- Just a set of Homebodies and No “Home”

Happy Sunday! How are you? How have the past couple weeks been treating you?

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We’ve been a go, go, going it seems like and while I love to have a home/sweats/movie/books day once a week. I don’t think we actually have in a couple weeks. I think it is really important both for us as parents, as well as for our children that we have downtime. I’m not talking about just naptime/quiet time (because Colton has started napping less and less), but I’m talking a full day of not running anywhere, not having a schedule, just relaxing and going with the day. One where we can go for a walk if we really want to and the weather allows it, but it isn’t something that we shoot for (a walk being the only reason we would leave). I LOVE this idea and it really helps us decompress and relax and makes all the rest of the traveling and go go going not so…hectic feeling. We are homebodies at heart and having that day (and really the evenings) to balance out the rest is perfect.

That is, until I remember that we are still in a hotel, with a limited number of toys and activities and I wind up spending the whole morning telling the kids that they can’t wrestle, run around, climb on everything, or scream. Then our little decompress day looks a whole lot different. Haha. My peaceful morning goes out the window.

It’s not really so bad as all that, but it is definitely not as peaceful as I would hope. These types of days will look much different when we have a house, all the toys and space for the boys, and everything else that we would like.

Of course, everything will look different when we have a house.

Now, I want to make something very clear- I am not complaining per se. We are very blessed to be able to be in the situation that we are in (one I know many many would dream of) and we are loving our time here in Germany. It has been a true dream come true and some days still very much feels like a dream and not reality. BUT hotel living is hard. It’s hard with two very active toddlers who need the down/home time just as much as we do. It’s hard when you want to decorate and have your own sense of “home”, but can’t. It’s hard when you see pieces of home décor that you would love to have, but you don’t have a home for them yet. It’s hard to not have everything that you would like to for your kids and they are bored. It’s hard when you want to cook a full dinner, but aren’t able to.

All of that sounded a whole lot like complaining. And maybe in a way I am, but it’s been almost 2 months and it’s wearing a little thin. I feel like I’ve had such a good head and attitude about this. There isn’t a whole lot that I can do to change this situation and I’ve always said that if you cannot change the situation (which on occasion does happen), then you have to change your attitude about the situation. I’ve kept that positive attitude up, and to clarify- I still am incredible happy, blessed and positive, but some days I break. And in an effort to be transparent and honest, I am sharing that with you. I’ve always said that life is not sunshine and daisies (because it isn’t), but people are scared to show that not sunshine side. Here I am, showing you our not so sunshine side, all first world problems and all.

Do you know this feeling? Have you dealt with an extended hotel or small living space with children? Even without children? Share in the comments below! Or are you struggling with something now? Something that you want to vent about? Share! Nothing is too trivial.

That was a bit of a downer of a post, so let’s do a high note for the ending? We had a little local bazaar here over the past couple of days. There were a lot of vendors selling a variety of goods, cheese & meats, alcohol, rugs, wood work, and my new personal addiction…polish pottery. Now I haven’t been much in the world of polish pottery, this was actually my first “exposure” to it and let me just say, I’m in love. There was so much to choose from, so many beautiful designs to see and I wanted to buy ALL OF IT. I kid you not, there was one design, a new one they just released, that was only available in a couple of pieces. I picked up what I could of it and thankfully they didn’t have anymore options because I would have bought the lot in that design. Overall, the bazaar was a really awesome event.

Have you ever owned/seen/purchased and Polish Pottery? What do you think of it?

Bazaars, Open Air Markets, Farmers Markets, etc., are my favorite ways to shop. I find that you can find some of the most unique items by shopping a) locally, and b) through an event that has vendors from all over. Luckily it seems like the Germans (and really Europeans) really understand this concept because this stuff happens ALL THE TIME.

I’m in heaven here, between the landscape, the history, the people, the food, the shopping, it’s all been wonderful. I may struggle from time to time over our hotel/housing situation, but that is a short term struggle. We are hopeful that we will get a house soon and then the only negative (at this point) will be no more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Morning Cups – A Two for One

IMG_9865.jpgI’ve been talking and listening to a lot of people lately (both in person and online) and I’ve been hearing two different things: 1) Complaints about location, living in a hotel, how small the area is, how spread apart everything is, etc. and 2) How positive I am about the whole situation, that they don’t see that a lot and how great that is. 

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Here’s the deal. Life in general is what you make of it. Situations arise, things happen, life doesn’t go according to all of your dreams, there will always be something. It happens to all of us. The difference from one person to another is what you make of it. How you handle the highs and lows. What outlook you choose to adopt. 

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Does living in a hotel apartment suck at times? Sure! Of course it does. Does it suck for my kids to be confined to one room at times? Yes. (We also have a pretty good set up, I’ve seen a couple of the other apartments in our building- doesn’t change the overall sentiment). 

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I could name all the things, but honestly it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I CHOOSE to handle this new situation. I am CHOOSING to look at the bright side. I am CHOOSING to look at the wealth of options and good things that we do have. There is SO MUCH good right now, that while the bad can be bad at times it doesn’t affect our overall positive outlook. ▫️

I fully believe that THIS, this seemingly mundane thing, has made all the difference in our whole move and transition. 

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What is your outlook? I challenge you to find the good. Focus on the good. Smile. 

We’ve all got one of those pictures. The one that just “didn’t work out”. The first picture is one of those pictures. I had Andrew who just wanted to be held, Colton who wanted to run wild and free, and me who just wanted one picture with both boys. The funny thing is I almost prefer this picture to our “perfect” picture (swipe to see the perfect one). This first picture shows the particular moment in time. The imperfections that makes our family perfect. Life is not perfect, our family is not perfect, but we are us and both of these pictures represent us. I look at this picture and I laugh. I see my children loved and happy just having a fun time. I laugh at my own “over it” look (and I do very much remember that feeling). Those memories are more important than having that perfect picture. Reality is always better than perfection. 

Round the Kettle Ep 9 – A Catch Up and International Women’s Day

Good afternoon! It’s been a while since I’ve done a Round the Kettle post, but they are coming back now. It’s a rainy Sunday morning when I’m writing this, and to be completely honest, I am writing it in my car, while the laundry is going, and the kids are bored in the back seat. Unfortunately, the laundry that we have to use is right next to the playgroup building for the boys…cue crying over wanting to go and play (it’s not open…). Such an excellent example of the week that we’ve had. I’ve had a cappuccino this morning, which was incredible, and am hoping that caffeine can tide me over for a little while. It’s been a week of very little sleep.

We’ve had a lot going on and I have a lot that I want to share with you.  In fact, I don’t really know where to begin…

How about we start with YOU. How are you doing? How has the start of 2019 treated you? How have the past couple weeks been? Any major news that you want to share?

We’ve reached the end of our first month here in Germany and that initial spark we felt upon arriving here has NOT faded in any way and I don’t know that it will. We’ve had quite the time exploring the area’s “near” us, getting settled in to new routines, and trying ALL the food. Germany has so much to offer and we jumped right in when we got here. Even our “close to home” weekends involve something out and about. It’s been a rollercoaster being in a little hotel apartment (especially for the boys who desperately want to run constantly), but we are making it work for us.

The past couple weeks have been about figuring out what the week looks like for us. Obviously my husband works 5 days a week, but his schedule is different than it has ever been, and the boys and I have a large element of freedom now with schedules. I am not working anymore (while we are here) and that has allowed the three of us to spend our days out and about, only returning for naptime/evenings. We’ve found a playgroup, library story-time, and a local park to spend our mornings. The boys have been loving this change to say the least.

I’ve been enjoying this new freedom to our days as well, although I can say it is for sure a change. It is a bit different as the things that I would normally handle (house related, laundry, etc.) isn’t necessary. We do our laundry somewhere else once a week, and there isn’t much I can do cleaning wise. This has given me quite a bit of time on my hands- which I’ve been using to get some writing and reading done.

This past week was International Women’s Day and I was seeing a lot of positive conversations across the board about how far women have come. One conversation that I took part in, and that I felt was very important was one about having a choice. I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but I think for me, the most important thing for women is having a say in their lives. Having a say in what they want to do, in what they are passionate about, in how they want to spend their time. Whether that is as a stay at home mom, a corporate business woman, or somewhere in between.

The other conversation that I was a part of and thoroughly enjoyed (and saw a lot of) is about how as women we’ve come so far in building each other up, rather than tearing each other down. I am a firm believer that we should always applaud others (not just women, but across the board). The achievement of others may not have anything to do with you, but your reaction to their achievements says a lot. We should spend more time applauding others for what they are choosing to do or not do (obviously this does not apply to negative actions such as drugs/alcohol/etc.) rather than nitpick, degrade, or pass judgement.

What are your thoughts/reflections on International Women’s Day?

I think that’s all I’ve got for you on this rainy Sunday afternoon!

 

 

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!

The Day The Books Got Packed

The morning had dawned gray and dreary…quite appropriate weather for what was about to happen on this day. In their home. Today was the day the books would get packed. It was almost as if the sky and Mother Nature were telling her it would be OK (as she loved the rain, it was her comfort weather).

A house is not a home without books, or so she thought. She had been raised surrounded by books. Piled high on the book cases, rows three books deep in some places. Books shoved in nooks and crannies in her room, piled high on her desk, her bedside table. Reading had always been her escape, when life just became too much.

Reading was her life, beyond just a hobby, she desired nothing more than to live her life with a cup of tea in one hand and a book at her side (of course her husband and children fit into that picture as well). She wanted to make a life/career centered around books and she was working towards that.

She formed quite her own collection of books, although smaller than she had wanted at this stage of her life, it was still a very nice start to a home library. Three bookcases piled high, packed to the brim held her treasures. And then, in random corners of the rest of their home there would be books piled here and there, always in a neat and orderly fashion, but piled none the less.

Often times her husband would comment on the sheer amount of books that were coming into the little library of theirs, or when the piles in other places would grow to large ( though by and large he let her be as he saw how happy she was reading her books). Their kids would often thumb through her books, not really ready to truly read yet, but loving the act of thumbing the pages just the same. The kids library was quite substantial as well and they loved being able to pick up a book on a rainy afternoon as well (which is a story for another day).

She may not have read every book in her collection, but the ones she had read had left marks on her soul. Some left deeper marks than others, but each book had a memory of some sort. Her collection was her joy and bringing the collection into each home that they lived in was something special for her.

In fact, the first thing she would do whenever they moved and found a new house (they moved relatively frequently due to job) would be to bring in whatever books that she had squirreled away in their take with them luggage and set them up somewhere in the house. Usually this would lead to enough books for anyone to read in a month.

Their last move had been state to state, and only consist of a month of travel (vacation for her and her husband), but just a straight forward move. This move was different. An overseas move meant that her collection would be packed up and shipped on a boat, they wouldn’t be in a house for at least a couple months, which meant about 4 months without her library.

She didn’t panic (well maybe she did a little), but rather tried to take a practical approach. Pictures of every shelf, then a meticulous sort through to get through of whatever didn’t need to be kept, and then it was time for the hardest step before the movers came…picking the physical books that she would take with her.

This was probably the hardest packing decision there is. As a reader you never truly know what you will be in the mood to read next, where a certain book will leave you when you finish, and ultimately what you want to read will change with each book you read. It’s a tough call to make when you are going to be “in transition” for 4+ months. She wanted to have a bit of variety, but also some chunkier, longer books to keep her going.

**I want to clarify something- I have a kindle. I fully plan on taking advantage of that. BUT there is a difference between reading on a kindle and reading a physical book. I highly prefer physical books and so I definitely wanted to have some physical books on me, not just for reading purposes, but for comfort and home purposes.**

And so, all of her plans and preparations being done, the dreaded day had come. As the movers placed each book into the boxes she found herself feeling a mournful silence. It seemed quite silly in the moment. After all, they were just books, but then again they weren’t just books. They were stories that had touched her soul, some in incredible life changing ways.

And honestly, each book going into the box was a signal to her. This was happening. They were moving. Soon they would be in a new country. In a new environment. Navigating new adventures, new challenges. Learning a new language, a new culture. It was as if everything she had been feeling for the past few months had hit her in this moment of watching her collection get packed and loaded away.

Watching the moving truck pull away from the house (clutching one of her treasured books that would be traveling with her), she felt a sense of calm come over her. All the stress, the nerves, the planning had come to fruition and now they could just enjoy the vacation and travel to their new home. And of course, she had a small collection of books to accompany her and her family along the way.

 

*** Authors Note- I hoped you enjoyed this latest installment in my utterly ridiculous short stories of my life! I’ve been kind of enjoying poking fun at my seemingly innocent, but none the less stressful moments. I do want to say- I wasn’t going to start with “the morning dawned”, but it only felt right considering the last two started that way. Of course, as with the other two, this is meant to be a lighthearted look into an experience that I had and even though we got a little deep at the end, please know the humorous side of it.