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?

Round the Kettle Ep 19 – Turning Home

Oh boy. When I originally started this little feature, it was meant to be every other week (at least twice a month) and as I went to go check what episode number it is I realized it’s been a whole month since we have had one! To be fair- it’s been an exciting, busy, in some ways exhausting month. I’ve gone from festival to festival, trip to trip, day to day activities without stopping.

We’ve gone from adventure to adventure and are now, as the title suggests, turning home for a few weeks.

But first, how are you? Are you enjoying the Autumnal weather and colors? Has Autumn even started to creep in where you live?

I’m sat here at our Dining Room table typing away (not in my office for once) and as I look up and out the windows I can see the storm brewing for a rainy afternoon, the bright orange and yellows of the trees across the field, and leaves dancing through the air when the breeze hits just right. It’s pure bliss for me.

I’m falling even deeper in love with Autumn here. It’s like the area comes alive with festivals, colors, a lightness, and warmth (even though most days it’s a wet chilly and rainy). Our days are full of off and on rain, with little bursts of sunshine peppered throughout and the trees have put out a full show like I don’t see this early on. I’m looking forward to seeing what a quiet rest of October feels like- just soaking in the changes around us.

The past month we’ve managed to travel over to Austria for the Almabtrieb (HERE), to a spectacular light show that everyone is STILL talking about (HERE), experience what a small town festival feels like (HERE), experience Germany/German Culture at its finest with Oktoberfest (HERE), take a little river ferry to a nearby Abbey, and finally cross a few castle’s off of our list (blog posts to come).

I’ve been trying to breathe in those little pockets of time in between, but we are all eager to get a chance to just breathe at home. To be able to put our feet up for a little while.

I say all this now, but in a week or two I’ll probably catch the travel bug all over again. Living in Europe we’ve really managed to catch that travel bug, trying to turn any free moment into a chance to explore, to head out on a new adventure. Luckily we’ve managed to figure out how to make it work for us so we don’t feel this burnout all the time (we can go a few weeks of off and on before we need a little longer break), but, in the sake of honesty, that travel burnout is a THING and it is something that surprised us in a way. I’ll talk more about that soon, but wanted to mention it now.

Have you caught the Travel bug before? Done any good traveling? What was your favorite destination?

I’ve also started to look towards the end of the year. We are in the last 3 months of this year (let alone the last 3 months of this decade- way to put pressure on that) and I’ve been evaluating the year, evaluating the last couple of years, and just taking stock. So many things have changed, so many have stayed the same. I think it’s always a good idea to take a little bit of time towards the end of the year and just look back. Look at what is working, what isn’t working, what you want to change. I try to do this before the proper end of the year as the last couple weeks of December just tend to blur together anyways ha-ha.

So, that’s the basic gist of this post. We are looking forward to a little quiet time at home after the past few weeks. The boys have really hit their stride here with friends and activities and I think I have too. I feel like I’ve got a good circle around me and things are really going well. I know this post has been a bit…all over and maybe a bit different, but it’s just where my head is at on this Thursday afternoon.

How about for you?

Round The Kettle Ep. 16: A July and August Debrief

Oh, hi there! Long time, no speak…

How are you? I’ll be honest, it feels a little weird doing this this way, but I couldn’t just jump right back into normal blog posts without doing something else. That felt much weirder. How did July treat you? It’s a little crazy to think that it is now August 2019. I feel like our time is just flying by and there really isn’t any stopping it. It doesn’t help that we’ve just been a busy storm over here.

I figured that I would take this Round the Kettle as a way to sort of…organize my thoughts. Let you in on a little background of what has happened and what will be happening and just kind of have a chance for us to catch up properly. That ok? I hope so 🙂

So, July, whew what a month! In our area and my husband’s job, July tends to be a mass holiday time period with everyone going on holiday throughout the month (to different spots and times obviously). To be honest, we only truly started taking summer holidays a couple years back, we used to just save the time off days up for winter holiday and take a month-long December/January time period. But, once we started the summer holiday, we haven’t really been able to stop.

One of the benefits to living overseas is being able to do a lot of foreign travel. It’s not “cheap”, but it also isn’t expensive (as compared to traveling to Europe from the States). We are definitely changing our budget around to accommodate our travel and are very happy and willing to do that. But, I digress… It’s been really fun to watch where all of our friends have been traveling to as there is such a variety to the trips here. I’ve seen people go to France, Croatia, Italy, Prague, and then our very own trip over to England and Scotland.

Did you go anywhere in July? Any Summer Holidays?

I’m going to be completely honest; I have no idea how I’m going to be breaking down our travel into reasonable blog posts. We saw so much. We did so much. We experienced and learned more than I could even imagine. And I have SO MUCH TO SHARE. It’s something that I’m actually really struggling with in a weird way. I think I’m going to do a breakdown of our trip in this post, and then go from there, although after the breakdown if you have any idea’s, please let me know!

So, our summer trip. To say that England and Scotland were a dream holiday for me would be putting it very mildly. I’ve been dreaming of a chance to visit these countries for a long time. I’m a huge Anglophile, a huge reader, and the Highlands of Scotland have always held a sacred place in my heart (now a much bigger much more sacred place). When hubs agreed to the trip, I could not wait!

We did a total of 14 days away as follows: Day 1 and 2 travel, stopping in Calais for the night, stopping in Dover, Kent, England and then arriving in London, England early evening of Day 2. We did the Eurotunnel to cross the channel both going to and coming from. Day 3- 5 were in London, Day 6 we headed up to Edinburgh Scotland. Day 7-8 in Edinburgh, Day 9 headed up to Inverness with a stop at Balmoral Castle. We spent Day 10-11 in Inverness/Black Isle and then used days 12-14 to come back home with a few pit stops in Bastogne and Luxembourg.

Over all the trip was absolutely perfect, we would have preferred to have one more day in Inverness, but more on those specifics in all of my numerous travel related blog posts coming up.

Now, looking forward, August is going to be equally busy, but more in the home sense.

I’ve got to finish up putting our house together for starters. All that’s really left are the “final touches”, but those can be a bit of a pain to get just right. I do plan on sharing some of the things from our house, but, again, more on that later in the month.

I’m going to be participating in a readathon for the entire month, with a goal of reading 9 books by the end of the month. Which means I’ve spent the past week trying to get everything sorted so that when August 1 came, I didn’t have nearly as much on my plate and could focus mostly on reading.

To top all of that, my husband is now going into his busy time at work. He will be in and out for the majority of the next couple of months which means that everything is going to be double what it is normally. It also means that everything that can go wrong probably will and we are just going to have a fun time on this ride called life.

So, overall that’s where I’m at. Tell me, how was your July? Are you ready for it to be August? Before too much longer the temps will start to fall and Autumn will be upon us. Are you excited? I sure am.

Round The Kettle Ep 15 – The Serious Conversations

I had a conversation with a friend this week talking about a couple of things that I haven’t really been able to talk about with friends before. We covered a variety of topics and it was kind of refreshing to just talk with someone else about different topics that have been circling in my head. I’ll be honest- while I haven’t been burrowing into my books (my version of burying your head in the sand), I have definitely avoided certain conversations…

You know the ones…

Politics, Religion, Current Events.

It feels like nowadays if you want to make/keep/cherish a friendship you shy away from these subjects.

Maybe that’s an exaggeration. Maybe our friendships should mean more than the things we disagree on, but I’ve seen so many relationships dissolve over these types of conversations. All out break up? Maybe a smidge dramatic. A slow backing away though? Definitely.

But you know what? I want to have these conversations. I want to hear what others think. I want to learn about others viewpoint, how they learned, what they believe. I WANT TO UNDERSTAND. I want to have these conversations without risking losing a friendship over a differing opinion.

I like to think of myself as an open minded individual. I also like to think of myself who likes to talk deep, go deep in the conversations, to talk about the big issues. When I have a conversation with someone where we disagree, I almost enjoy that more than when we agree on everything. It gives me a chance to learn, to understand something in a different light, to see what has us thinking differently. And sometimes through these conversations, my mind will shift. I may even start to see things differently myself, or see them even more in what I originally thought. Either way, these conversations are GREAT to have.

That is if the other person is willing to be open minded and ready to listen.

You could argue, “Mia, you aren’t choosing your friends wisely if you can’t have these types of conversations without risking friendships”. I don’t know that I necessarily agree with that. I feel like there are different types of friendships and I can have these conversations with some and not with others. That’s ok and I feel like that is pretty normal.

With all of that being said…

Do you know this feeling? Have you ever felt this way? If you have, I’m curious how you handle it? Do you have certain people that you have these conversations with? Do you get really active in the internet world having these conversations?

I’m not going to be bringing this stuff to the blog or anything like that. You will start to see some posts geared towards things that I am passionate about, but haven’t talked a lot about (I’ve mentioned all these things at some point though). BUT I won’t be straying far from what I’ve already been doing. This is just something I’ve been thinking about this past week.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Round the Kettle Ep 10: An Unplanned Reality Check?

How are you? How have the past couple weeks treated you?

We’ve been…keeping busy over here to put it lightly. But, I’ll be completely honest with you, I don’t really know what else to share about the past couple weeks that I haven’t already talked about in previous blog posts. You can read about our Berlin trip HERE and catch my most recent Friday Morning Cups post HERE. These two posts kind of sum up the biggest bits from the past couple weeks.

No, today I want to talk about something completely different than what I thought I would be. I thought I would be touching on what we’ve learned from travelling with two toddlers, our must haves, and just general thoughts, but I just don’t feel like talking about that right now. I may do a full blog post on this later on, but I wanted to go back to something that I heard a couple weeks ago.

There is a lot of conversation around where we are at. The area that we are, the goods, the bads, work schedules, lack of work, etc. I hear both ends of the spectrum, the love, the hate, the ambivalent. I’ve tried to see different perspectives on each situation and conversation I’ve been in and have tried to be understanding to others, as we are all going through different things in life and that affects how we handle things. I know this is all very vague- I’m sorry!

BUT honestly, I feel that we all need a bit of a reality check. Maybe a couple…bear with me for a minute as Reality Check 1 is one that applies to my specific situation, Reality Check 2 is the one that applies to life as a whole. Honestly I’ve been seeing some negativity going around, and not only just here where I am at, but across Social Media as well.

Reality Check #1: How many people would dream to have the opportunity that we have?

Yes, it may not be ideal all the time. There may be times where we miss family, where we miss some of the amenities that we have grown accustomed to and sure there may be times when we just want our family to be together (to be honest, when the work schedule is free it is free, when it is booked, it is booked solid), but we are in Europe. I NEVER dreamed in my wildest dreams that this dream I had held on to for so many years would actually get to come true. Even if Europe was not a dream of yours, it is an absolutely incredible opportunity. Travel here is so much easier and accessible. The number of things to do, history to see, places to go is endless.

Also- this could apply to anyone, not just myself. Think about the good in your life, think about the opportunities that you have been blessed with. I guarantee you there are some. We’ve all been blessed, some more so than others, yes, but we’ve all had some blessings.

Reality Check #2: Your Life and Your situation is what YOU make of it.

Here’s the big life altering piece of advice that is coming in this Round the Kettle…We get one life to live and WE get to choose how to live it. Yes, sometimes there are situations out of our control, yes sometimes there are hiccups, but WE get to choose how we respond to those situations, we get to choose what options we make and where we go from there. If you go into a situation thinking of all the things that could go wrong, thinking of all the negatives, you are setting yourself up to be miserable and to fail. If you go into a situation thinking of the positives, the doors that can open everything changes.

Now, none of this is new or anything like that, but I can’t help but remind myself of this all the time. There are always positives and negatives to any situation, but it is what we choose to focus on that determines our outcome/life/lifestyle/attitude/whatever you want to call it.

Ok, I’m getting off my soapbox now. I just get so aggravated when I see the constant negativity. I know that life isn’t all sunshine and daisies, hell I had a moment this week where I got annoyed because we were in a little hotel instead of our home and we didn’t have all the toys for the kids, and I didn’t have access to some things, yada yada yada. Yea, I had a moment, I GET it. I just don’t dwell in it. I don’t focus on it. I will share about the frustration sparingly, because as much as I believe in sharing the good AND the bad, the moment you let it fester- the moment you give it more than the initial frustration- is the moment it starts to take over. So, I’ll share every once in a while and in sharing, I’ll put a little reminder at the end that the situation is what we make of it. While life isn’t always perfect and things aren’t always happy, that doesn’t mean it can’t be.

If you only take one thing away from me/my blog/my life it is that our attitude, our thought process, our mind controls 75% of our life and outcome.

What do you think? This Round the Kettle went completely sideways from my initial intention and honestly this whole post should either be scrapped or a totally separate post, but I am keeping it as it is. Round the Kettle isn’t intended to be like my regular blog posts, rather just a catch-up chit chat style post. This is just something that I’ve been chatting with others about and has been weighing heavily on me over the past week or so. I wanted to share and chat about it because it is something that even I need to be reminded of from time to time.

In other, more light and fun news, I am taking a couple steps forward in turning this into a proper Podcast! I am doing some research, learning how things work, what is best to do, reading, etc. I hope that I can get things really up and going shortly after we get a house (which we still have no clue on haha).

 

 

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!