Round the Kettle Ep. 31 Dipping MY Toes Back In

It’s that time again…it’s time for me to talk about how I’m bringing these posts back once again, but this time it’s for real (see last POST dated 4/21 :|). If you don’t know, or are new, Round the Kettle is a biweekly series that I do that I use as a bit of a brain dump of life. It wasn’t intended to stay in blog format, but rather transition into a podcast, but that quite obviously hasn’t happened yet. I keep talking about doing it, about getting the podcast going, but then I get these little thoughts in the back of my mind…what if it sucks, what if no one listens, what if I can’t do it. But then again, are you here? Are you reading this? Am I screaming into a void? Screaming into a void can be quite nice though…A thought for 2022 possibly.

I digress. That’s the beauty of Round the Kettle, you get my pure unfiltered, unadulterated thoughts on a wide variety of things. Quite honestly, I sit down at my desk with a small outline of what I’d like to cover from the previous two weeks, then I type a bunch of stuff, do a basic spell check and hit publish. It’s great. 

I originally had stopped these because we were moving, things were hectic and chaotic and, I finally found a routine with the blog and doing one post a week. That was manageable. Then somethings shifted in the world at large and I really needed to take a step back from everything and breathe in my own headspace. However, things are levelling out now (I say that- back to school is right around the corner and the world is still doing its thing) and I feel like I want to maybe…dip my toe back in. 

First things first, some lighter things to talk about…

Surprisingly, I’ve actually watched quite a bit of TV that I want to talk about. I’m not a massive TV watcher, mostly due to the fact that the TV tends to be monopolized by my husband and children, but also because I tend to prefer reading quite a bit more. However, Netflix has been doing a lot on the docuseries and reality shows that have been working for me and I’ve watched several. 

On the reality side of things, I obviously watched the After the Alter Love is Blind special and I’ve got a couple of quick thoughts: 1) STOP. Stop dragging these people through this, if we want anymore updates, we can see those on their social medias. I basically only watched to see Lauren and Cameron because they’re adorable, but the rest of the cast is full of such toxicity that it just turns into manufactured drama that doesn’t need to play out on a screen in front of us (especially that whole Damian and Gianina situ- so manufactured and edited my goodness). 2) If you want to keep the team of the Love is Blind “phenomenon” (which the first season and reunion WERE), then do a season two of all new people. Let the show continue to move on. Put this first season to bed. 

I also watched the second season of Too Hot to Handle and…oh my word was this next level compared to the first season. I mean, anything really went and they really went with anything. I don’t have much more to say on this one, except that I really rooted for a couple of people and I’m so happy with how it turned out and who is still together post show. 

Finally on the reality side of things, I’ve gotten about halfway through My Unorthodox Life and…I don’t know if I’ll go much further in it. Here’s the thing, I think the show is great at showing Julia’s life and how she has found “herself” and who she wants to be. I LOVE that she advocates that for everyone, that each person needs to find their own way and what they want out of life…BUT (and it’s a massive but) I feel like in some ways she doesn’t allow the same grace to others as she expects to be allowed her. Let me see if I can explain that better…Julia wants to be accepted and acknowledged as a woman who is no longer part of the Orthodox community, she wants to be free to be herself (which we can sit and debate the true realities of different parts of that statement- there are plenty of people already covering that), BUT she is disappointed or makes snide remarks that her children may hold a different view than her. Point in fact, she regularly referenced the fact that her older son still held some facets of orthodoxy (I think both her older daughter and son would be “modern orthodox”, but I’m not sure- I’m not a fan of labels) such as keeping Shabbos and Kosher as disappointing or confusing to her. If you want people to accept what you have decided for your own life, you need to accept what they have decided for their own lives, even if you don’t understand or agree all the time. It got to be a bit too much judgement and hypocrisy (especially with her older daughters marriage- my goodness) that I had to stop watching. And I don’t know if I’ll continue. 

We’ve also been watching Man with a Plan, The Heist, and I’ve watched an episode of Cooking with Paris as well as Shadow and Bone. I’ve been binging on a few YouTube videos and Podcasts- notable ones would be The Morning Toast & Not Skinny but Not Fat on Podcast, Observe, Morgan Long, The Book Leo, and Emmie on YouTube. It’s been kind of an eclectic time and I find myself being drawn mostly to aesthetic styles in my content consumption (outside of TV and Books) rather than specific topics. 

I referenced this earlier, but I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. I talk about all of the books in my monthly wrap up, but I’m currently reading These Violent Delights, which is a Romeo and Juliet retelling taking place in Shanghai with a supernatural twist. I’m enjoying it quite a bit (I’m a bit of a sucker for a hate/despise to love romance) and while I think it’s good, so far it’s not GREAT, just good (like the difference between a 3 and a 4 star book). I recently finished both Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke by Eric LaRocca (which I don’t even know what to rate or say about) and The Royal Art of Poisoning by Eleanor Herman (which I loved). It’s been a pretty stellar period for reading this August. 

In the real world, it’s been a lot of heartbreak hasn’t it? Devastation from Mother Nature in Haiti, heartbreak in Afghanistan, and a world still very much in flux and fighting over this pandemic situation. Sometimes it feels like we can’t do anything, we see all this destruction and pain and heartbreak and we get paralyzed with the sheer amount of it all. It sits heavy on our soul and we carry it forward with an additional feeling of “what can I even do about this?”. Sometimes its hard not to feel like a small ant in a very big colony, but we can each do SOMETHING. Whether that is sharing links to resources, sharing information with our community, writing our leaders, or simply being the ears and shoulders for someone to share their burden, it all matters. Everything matters, from everyone. I want to say, that while I don’t or can’t always share my personal opinion on certain topics publicly (for a couple reasons that I won’t bring up here), note that I am ALWAYS doing something behind the scenes, something in my community, something in my home. I will always fight for what I believe in and what I feel is right, even if that’s not always a public fight. 

And that wraps this super long, super rambly new episode…there is something just freeing about the fact that I am about to just press publish and walk away. So many of my blog posts are so well thought out, edited down, researched, and worked on over a period of time. And I LOVE them, but I also love this style too. 

Which is your favorite?

Round the Kettle Ep. 30: Back into the Fold

Happy Wednesday! I’m coming at you technically on Tuesday, in my comfiest jeans and a sweatshirt outfit, on a blustery, rainy day. To be honest, as much as I love the sunshine (and its necessity to our lives), my favorite weather is happening right now. I really love when it’s overcast, a soft pitter patter of raindrops hitting the windows and roof, and we are quietly cozied up in our home with books or a movie or a puzzle. That last part is incredibly rare in my home (with 2 boys and a husband it’s rarely ever quiet), but today must have some special powers because it’s happening. I’m upstairs in my office, typing this post up and the boys are downstairs playing an alphabet puzzle/game. This is rare. So, let’s take advantage of it and chat.

How are you doing? Like, really actually doing, not the standard “Things are good” or “I’m fine”. What are some specifics?

Today’s post was originally supposed to be the first in my “welcome to our new home” posts, but I STILL don’t have everything in place for that (dang counter stools). Then it was going to be a blog post about Heidelberg Castle, but…in a moment of full transparency, as much as I loved Heidelberg, Heidelberg Castle, and all of the history, there is SO MUCH history to that castle and my brain is oddly struggling to keep it all straight. So, that’s been tabled for now (maybe even indefinitely) too. Feeling at a bit of a loss for what to write about, I realized I hadn’t really done a casual chatty post in so long, definitely since before we came back to America. 

I work really hard on every blog post that goes up, usually putting a week or two of work in each post. Most of the content is worked, and reworked, and then maybe reworked again. And I love that, but I also like when I just sit down at a computer, type away, then hit publish without thinking twice (except maybe to run it through spell check or grammar checks). In some ways, that feels more vulnerable than a lot of the vulnerable stuff I share. I used to do these types of posts twice a month (if you remember Round the Kettle, there ya go), but they kind of faded away when things got busier, and I was pre planning a lot of posts. Right now though, it seems like the perfect time to bring them back.  

So, gosh, where do I even begin? My blissful peace that I referenced just…3 paragraphs ago has left. Replaced with a high amount of noise that I didn’t know two little boys were capable of making, right in my office (right behind my office chair and desk to be specific). Which is the nature of my days anymore. The boys have handled the transition of coming back to America with a poise that us adults didn’t even have, but they’ve struggled with the transition of Daddy going back to work, school starting back up (though Colton is super pumped about that), and just a general sense of normalcy returning. The minute one parent leaves, they cannot seem to let the other parent out of their sight, which means that they just follow from room to room. If there was any “sign” of what 2020 did to our children (beyond the whole school/social life downfall) it was that when we go to stores now, Andrew just randomly stops and watches in wonderment at EVERYTHING. It’s been that long since he’s been shopping in stores and such. 

Which, let’s talk about that for a minute, because a lot of us are starting to “see a light at the end of the tunnel” these days. While I personally am feeling so good (because it’s VERY different here in America than Germany- so I’m already feeling much more free) about things, I do still have a bit of a cautious feeling too. For all the bad that 2020 was (and it was bad), there was also some good that came out of it. My concern is that we are all going to rush to “getting back to normal” that the lessons and good that came from 2020 are going to be brushed aside. Let’s try not to do that, ok? 

So, normalcy is returning to our house. Colton has gone back to in person schooling two days a week at his new school, and he’s never been a happier little boy.  Andrew is still a bit attached to mommy (and daddy realistically), but he’s also really starting to become a little social butterfly. I swear, that kid will handle all the introductions I would ever need for me- he just runs up to people and starts talking to them. It’s something we are working on. Spring is…springing, which we are learning basically looks like “whatever goes” up here in the northern part of the country. We are supposed to get 5 inches of snow Wednesday, but then it’ll be back in the 50’s/60’s for the weekend before hitting 70’s next week. “Whatever Goes”. 

We are starting to explore our area, to branch out from our neighborhood and see some of the closer small towns. It isn’t anything like full blown traveling, rather little day trips here and there, but they’ve been special in their own ways. It’s nice to explore the area, to learn the history, and to see those little “American Small Towns”. We went to Sackets Harbor this past weekend, walking through the battleground from the War of 1812, learning the history of the battle as it happened, and then wandering through Main Street, stopping in a little bakery, an antique store, and a tea shop for some shopping. It was a lovely day and it felt good to just see something new for the day. 

And that is basically it! I feel like we’ve gotten a pretty good routine going, cleaning, writing, reading, schooling for the kids, socializing, etc. I always talk about feeling settled and the desire for “home”, and I feel like we are at that point. With that, I’ve got some big plans for the rest of this year. I’ve got two projects I’m working on outside of the blog as well as some big reading goals. 

Ok, post writing all this, but I felt like I needed to add a bit more. I wrote this before the verdict came back in the Derek Chauvin trial. I feel like first we need to address the fact that we were all waiting to see what the verdict would be, knowing full well what we all saw and witnessed in the video. The fact that we had to have a trial (instead of him pleading Guilty), and then had to wait for a jury to reach a verdict (what that verdict may have been), says A LOT about our system. But it’s also important to note that this is not justice. This is not something we should be grateful for (though many of us are). This is simply a man being held accountable for his actions. It is not the “sign that our system is changing”. It is not a time to say, ok we did this, we’re good. No, this is a time to keep pushing forward. To keep listening, learning, and fighting for the changes that we want to see, that we need to see. 

Round the Kettle Ep. 29: What A Time…

Man, oh man, what a couple of weeks. What a time we’ve had. I’m writing this on Friday morning after a couple of really tough motherhood weeks, tough mental health weeks, AND the election still hasn’t been decided yet. What a time. 

I’ve been trying to be a bit more open and honest on my social media in regard to the struggles that have been presented the past few weeks in motherhood/parenthood. It’s been rough, not going to lie and sharing that is hard for two reasons…

  1. There is this societal expectation that we are supposed to present the happy family, with the well-behaved children, perfect parenting techniques, a smile at all times, and a thankful/they’re only young for a while mentality. Not only does society place this expectation on us as mothers, but it’s so ingrained that often times we place this expectation on ourselves, and when we are “off” our games, it hits ten times harder in a feeling of overwhelm and failure. 
  2. There is a multi-layered fear of being so “open”. We all know that there are very real problems in our world, and there are levels of “there are worse things”, there is the judgement that comes (as mentioned above) that is much more difficult to navigate online as people tend to be a bit more open with their fingers and keyboards in a way they wouldn’t be with their mouths in person (let’s not dissect that sentence too deeply…please). This is a very valid fear, that is tied to point 1 above.

I know for me personally part of the problem is I’ve always been the “strong one”, the “cheery/positive one”, the person who is there for everyone else, who shoulders others burdens so they can unload. The safe place. And being seen as that, it makes it so much harder to then be “weak”. To be vulnerable and open about when I struggle. 

Further, I come from such a privileged position, that often times my problems in my little corner seem so small in comparison to that of the world’s problems. When I have a rough day, it is nothing in comparison to someone else. I recognize this and it makes me shrink into myself even more. BUT, that’s not healthy and it’s not a way to live. 

I posted the following on my social media and I feel like it perfectly encapsulates everything: 

“Even the strong can grow weary, the stoic can break, and sometimes those falls can be the quietest of all.”

So, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been struggling being a mother, I’ve been struggling to feel like myself, I’ve been struggling to find moments to breathe. Sometimes it has felt like everything has been stacked against me and I’m backed into the corner of “just do what you do to get through it- deal with everything else later”. That’s a very real feeling. That is something that happens so often to people. 

I have been trying to get some solo time, to do a little self-care, to find the little joys. I’ve done my nails. I’ve done yoga, gotten dressed, put makeup on. Little things here and there to remind me of myself. I went for a 6-mile solo walk that included picking up fresh baked goods and tea for the journey, and reminding myself what peace feels like. And that walk? That probably helped the most out of all of it. A couple hours where I had nothing. No decisions to make. No conversation to hold. No children to watch out for. Nothing. While I came home and was semi thrust back into parenting (thankfully my husband had the boys outside on bikes, so I got a bit more peace and then naptime), I still saw the smallest glimpse of the cheery, strong, Mia. 

I’m not saying the walk fixed everything, and that couple hours solved all the problems. In fact, if not careful, those moments can be taken away in a heartbeat (I’ve got a whole rant on this coming…), BUT a few more of those moments in time, a little bit more attention on finding those moments in the everyday, and it’ll add up.  

On a cheerier note…

I’ve started planning out the big one, the big holiday, dare I say it? Christmas. I’m one of those people who likes to be way ahead of the bandwagon and I usually have a “plan” for gifts by end of October, with everything purchased in the beginning of November. That’s great! How organized! Except then I’ll wait until Christmas Eve to wrap them…so win some, lose some I suppose.  Anyways, all that to say, I’ve got all of the boys presents mapped out this year, as well as a couple of friends. I always feel really organized and ahead of the curve, BUT it makes the wait time till Christmas excruciating. I’m not good at surprises or keeping things to myself. I love to see the reactions, the excitement, the massive grins and squeals of joy, so having all of this stuff just sat in my house waiting is torture. 

Are you an early planner or a wait till the last-minute shopper? 

Finally, I’ve done a fair bit of computer work the past few days. A lot of computer admin, clearing out older photos and files, exporting everything to hard drives, freeing up space both on the computer and on my phone. A lot of writing, sorting through information, planning out posts. I’ve found that maybe I have a bit more to say about certain things than I thought I did…so here lies a question for you. 

What do YOU want to see more of? What questions do you have? What is something you want to hear more about? Let me know. 

Round The Kettle Ep. 28: An Anniversary

October 18, 2014. A day that marked the next step in our lives. The day we pledged ourselves to each other. In sickness and health, for richer or poorer, as long as we both shall live. And now here we are. 6 years, 2 kids, 1 domestic and 1 international move, and countless adventures later. Still as madly in love as we were the first day we met. 

I remember the day that I met my husband. It’s funny because looking back…oof there could have been so many things to be wary of, but for us it worked. We had been chatting for a little while, but finally getting the chance to meet in person. It was a gray, drizzly day and our original plan was to go for a hike together, but the rain wasn’t clearing so we had dinner instead (then the rain cleared, we went for a hike, and it was all very romantic and cheesy- I’ll spare you). 

I remember the first time he told me he loved me. It’s funny because of my response. Walking home from a friend’s house and he just stopped us in the middle of a bridge. He says, “I love you” and me? I say, “Are you serious?”, followed by “I love you too”. I was in such a state of shock that my brain, heart, and mouth completely stopped communicating with each other. 

I remember the day he proposed to me. It’s also funny because it also happened to be the day I snapped at him about dropping hints but not following through (ya’ll- it had been MONTHS of teasing about proposing…I was over the teasing ha-ha). I remember him being extra paranoid about the weather (rain and gray skies again- starting to see a theme). We hiked up to a natural bridge and he got down on one knee. I remember the flurry of butterflies, the choked-up feeling of saying yes, the thrill of sharing our happiest news. 

I remember the day we got married. Gray skies again, which seemed to bode well for us, but a beautiful Autumn day, nonetheless. I had never been happier (and I think the same could be said for him). The entire day was spent as if in a dream and a feeling of such joy and love I thought I would burst. I remember the little details about the day that most would forget, they are implanted in my mind. I remember the feeling of my hands in his, the feeling of sliding the rings on, lighting the candle, and being introduced as Mr. & Mrs. And, since the funny bits still seem to follow us, I remember my husband spending the entire morning of our wedding day in the woods hunting, while the girls and I were in the hotel room watching Harry Potter and getting our hair and makeup done. 

I never truly expected where our life would take us, that we would be celebrating this anniversary in Germany, drinking alcohol we purchased in Italy, watching our two little boys play and grow and learn. I love this man more than I did all those years ago, and I know that love will continue to grow and change as the years continue. I love the family and life that we have created for ourselves. And, most importantly, I can’t wait to see what is next for us, for our family, for our lives together. 

Round the Kettle Ep. 27: CAtching Up

Hey! Hello! Long time no chat! 2020 has been a year (as we all can attest to at this point) and I’ve been shifting things around throughout all aspects of life. However, that means this little catch up post I like to do twice a month has kind of “check in”, how are things style, has slipped from my radar. And maybe that was wrong, because I think right now is when we need this type of thing the most. However, that is all changing now and I am back to doing these chatty posts twice a month. I’ve changed my posting schedule ever so slightly, only posting once a week on Wednesdays in the hopes that that will be a bit better all around.

So, how are you? How are you really?

I’m OK. In the grand scheme of things, things are good. Colton is in school (in person, with masks and mask breaks) and loving it, Andrew and I have a good little one on one time while he is at school, doing school or walking or independent play, I’ve been reading, and we’ve been traveling. Things seem, in a way, back to normal. However, there are also moments of melancholy, moments of burn out, moments where it just feels like an endless cycle of “run on empty”. I’m trying to focus on making the most out of these last months of 2020, even when it seems like sometimes everything is falling down around us. 

Let’s be honest, things are a bit of a mess right now. 2020 has been quite the year and I’m sure there is more to come. I can only encourage you to look ahead, to look above, to try and find the bright little moments, and to make sure, above all else, that you are taking care of yourself in whatever way that looks like for you. I think 2020 has shown us the power, and resiliency, of human beings. We’ve been tested in so many ways and it’s been a real show to see how we react, respond, and handle everything going on in the world. 

So, what have I been up to? Apart from traveling (safely following our strict regulations), I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading, a lot of walking, and have even watched some new shows and films! We recently watched Wild Wild Country on Netflix, which was insane, but good to watch. We also finished our re watch (start to finish) of Big Bang Theory on Netflix and started Brooklyn Nine Nine as our next comedy. I watched the Enola Holmes film with a close friend and loved every minute of it. I also, much like everyone else, watched Selling Sunset (and peaked at Carole Baskin on Dancing With The Stars- oof). In terms of reading, a few stand out favorite books from the past month or two have been Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (I just finished this- might be my favorite Sanderson yet), Born A Crime by Trevor Noah, and The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. 

What have you been up to???

Finally, I have a bit of a hairbrained idea that I’m thinking about…

When I am doing research for blog posts, I often times have “extra” information that doesn’t make the cut for the post (for many different reasons). I also gleam tidbits of information with podcasts, internet, and reading. All of this random information I get just chills in my brain waiting for a moment that I can share it. I was kind of thinking about doing a post maybe the last Friday of the month with just a list of bullet points of the random tidbits that I find interesting that I’ve learned throughout the month. Would this be something you would be interested in? Let me know because this are things that I would like to share, but don’t know if you would be interested in reading…

And that is all for this Sunday Afternoon. I hope that you are holding your head up (at least somewhat) and doing alright. 

Round the Kettle Ep. 26: Home Again

Hello! Long-ish time no blog. It’s been a nice little breathing point; I’ve been able to focus on our traveling and some much-needed family moments. It’s funny as this blog is my hobby. It’s my outlet. It’s like my library- my little corner in this great big world. And it’s a lot of work. It’s something that I love to do, that I feel a responsibility with, and that also takes up a lot of my brain space. I love it, but I get worn out from time to time. It’s not just sitting down at the computer, typing up some words, and then pressing publish (although it has been and can be that at times- especially these Round the Kettle posts). I try to put thought and information into each post I publish, I try to make it cohesive, and try to correct my grammar throughout each post. A break is a good thing every once in a while, to let my brain pause and let new ideas come. 

So, what did I do with my break? We took a little summer holiday. I spoke about our decision to start traveling HERE and originally that was limited to within Germany (where we live). However, we got a last minute “OK” to travel to some other countries (this is a longer story and maybe I’ll talk about it sometime…) and we jumped at the opportunity. We took a little under 2 weeks and explored areas of Luxembourg, France, and Belgium. 

I’ll be honest…it was glorious. Yes, we were overly precautious with masks, hand sanitizer, and washing our hands, but we also got to see places without the bulk of tourists. While there are positives and negatives to tourism and seeing tourist hotspots with all of the tourists, I won’t deny that walking through parts of Paris without a million other people was incredible. I will have blog posts and tip posts for every location, but it was a really great time overall. I didn’t know how much I truly missed (and needed) travel until we started traveling again. It was like something clicked back into place in my soul and I realized just how important that is. 

We do not have any immediate plans to travel again (beyond our German borders), as work schedules will start to pick back up again, school will start at some point in some way, and we are still carefully evaluating locations based on numbers (and approval). We have hopes though that late fall will have us planning another trip as well as sometime in the holiday season. 

Finally, now that I am starting to work through blog posts and content I wanted to give a little insight as to what you can expect coming up on the blog…

To start off I am going to be doing a little post about what the actual travel and Covid restrictions were like. What we noticed, what we practiced, and just what that was like. If you have any questions, please let me know and I’ll try to address them in that post. I will say- I cannot advise plane travel as we drove. 

Then, much like every other holiday, I will have blog posts on each city we went to, along with the tips/tricks posts, and a couple of castle posts (as we visited a couple of those). I’ve got a lot of thoughts and opinions to share on this particular trip so I’m looking forward to compiling those together. 

I will also have my standard reading wrap up post coming up at the end of this month/beginning of the next, a chatty post about the upcoming school year, AND hopefully a big announcement towards the end of next month (August/September time frame). 

All of this kicks off on Wednesday with my experience traveling in this new unprecedented time. 

How have you been? Have you started to see things open up near you?

Round the Kettle Ep. 24: Coronavirus and My Thoughts

Happy Sunday to all! How are things looking in your neck of the woods?

I mentioned on Social Media that we were supposed to have a little girls weekend this weekend in Prague that we were looking forward to for a few weeks. However, we have had travel restrictions placed on us both as a military family AND by the country that we were supposed to be visiting. So, I am now writing to you in the comfort of my comfiest clothes, in my office, with full plans to spend the weekend reading.

Now, before I get super far into this I want you to tell me, has Coronavirus stopped you from living your life? Have you experienced any changes? How is the panic in your area? What are YOU seeing in your community?

(In a weird way I’m actually very interested in the whole “feet on the ground” folks in their own communities’ outset on the virus. I find that it gives a much better view of what is going on than anything else.)

Here are my thoughts on Coronavirus. I’m concerned to an extent. I don’t want to spread it to my family, my friends, my larger community. There are enough unknowns, enough questions, that I understand the travel bans, the closure of places that aren’t able to be easily cleaned and sanitized (like Disneyland). The ability of this virus to spread is something to be concerned about, similar to how we get concerned about many other diseases and viruses. While I am not traveling, not within or outside of Germany, I see no problem of taking a trip into the city using appropriate caution (aka washing my hands a little more than normal, not touching my face, keeping my general distance from others- all things I would do normally). Something I’m not doing? Freaking out. Panic buying all the toilet paper (seriously- what the hell is the deal with this?!). Panic buying really anything beyond normal groceries. We have had a confirmed case in our little community and I got a direct understanding of how they are conducting checks and determining who is actually at risk of exposure when this happens.

I think that the right steps at this point to take are to just practice common sense. Something that we should have all been doing long before this anyways. Listen to the official statements put out by government entities, not what your friends/colleagues/the rumor mill are saying (unless those people are directly in the government system and can give factual information). If you are looking at a quarantine situation, then listen to that. And for crying out loud, if you are sick, even if just a common cold, stay home.

All of this is common sense, but for some reason we have all seemed to have forgotten it in the past few weeks. I think we are starting to fall into the media trap of hysteria to an extent. It is causing mis information, unnecessary panic (note – I said PANIC not concern, concern is certainly valid in this), and shortages of items across the board. Countries, states, and communities are doing what they feel is best for their own people and if you feel that there should be further steps taken for yourself and your family, then you are certainly able to take those steps.

One more thing, at a time like this, community becomes even more important. Help out others, your friends, your neighbors, the random stranger that you don’t know. As schools, businesses, and communities begin to close, we are all going to feel those affects. Offer to bring by groceries, water, help with meals, whatever. Support those who are going to be in need of it. The way that we get through this is by coming together and working through this as one. Let’s see this pull of us back together as a people.

As I’ve said, for us we are living life normally, minus our upcoming trips. I’m concerned (as I think would be normal in any case), but I’m not agonizing over it and hermitting in my home (any more than normal at least ha ha). We are also keeping up to date to our potential of exposure as we have had a case in our immediate area. We are tracking things appropriately, but I probably won’t be sharing too much on that end (at least as of this exact point) as I don’t want to unnecessarily spread misinformation or cause anymore panic.

Tell me, how are you feeling? How are you doing with Coronavirus? Have you seen any local impact for you? I definitely want to hear from others!

Round the Kettle Ep. 23: Hello Again!

Hello again! I feel a little strange writing this again as it’s been a few weeks since I sat down at a blank word document on a computer screen. To be honest, I took a little bit longer than I had intended, but the past few weeks have been a little bit harder than expected. I felt like I needed just a bit more and then, I wanted to have a little bit more of an informal post before just jumping right back into posts. A bit of a catch up- which is what Round the Kettle kind of is.

So, how are you? How did February treat you?

I feel like February is one of those sneaky tough months that, if you don’t catch it early, can be a bit of a struggle. Yes, Valentine’s Day is nice and all, but February can be dark and dreary with winter striking a blow at every turn. Maybe that was a bit dramatic? Regardless, we struggled.

Since we returned from our trip to Rome, my husband has been away (off and on at first and then fully towards the end) for most of January and February dealing with work things. As the boys are getting older, they are starting to understand and react to those changes. And, as they get older in some ways it gets easier, and in some ways it gets harder. I’ve always felt like I’ve done really well “handling everything” when my husband is away for work, but there have been a couple times over the past year that I’ve had to take a little step back from my own expectations. To be honest, I feel a little worn out (a little being the complete operative term here) and at times have felt a bit defeated. It’s not easy, even with a support system of friends, a routine to stick to, and the means of contacting my husband when needed.

I don’t want to whine, or spend much of this post reflecting on the past month, but I also don’t want to bury my head in the sand and pretend that the past few weeks weren’t as hard as they were. So, there’s that.

Moving forward into March, I want to focus on breaking some habits that I “re developed” the past month, get back to my roots of who I am, and start planning for the rest of our year. It kind of sounds silly, here being the 1st of March and I want to plan for the year, but honestly, it’s been so…”winter” here that I don’t know how much we would have really done anyways. We kind of hunkered down and just enjoyed being home, having slow weekend mornings, and working on our new routine (I honestly wonder if this will be a thing for upcoming years- guess it depends on where life takes us). All of that is changing as we start to come out of our little hibernation.

What have we got planned? Well, we have two or three definite travel plans (dates picked, location…picked in my mind ha-ha), as well as a bunch of day trip ideas swirling around. We’ve got a couple of cultural things (one of which has passed, but I’ll be talking about more tomorrow) as well as a little look into our “life at home” and the new routine we have in place. Over the next couple weeks, I am going to be “experimenting” with different posts, different things to talk about, and just seeing what kind of sticks. Something I want to focus on is going to be quality over quantity, so you may see a little change in that way. I’m kind of bordering on rambling at this point, but basically hello! I’m back, feeling much clearer minded and ready to get back to writing. The little break I took is a good one and one I think I’ll be taking every year.

How are you?

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?

 

Round the Kettle Ep, 21 – A Bit of Wanderlust

Happy Sunday…is it Sunday?…It is Sunday. The days of this past week have kind of blurred together. Combine that with my husband having an extra two days off (Monday and Friday) it’s all kind of become a mess in my head.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, Happy Sunday! How has it been? I haven’t actually sat down to write a blog post in what feels like ages (although in reality it’s only been a couple of weeks). It feels good to be using my brain again in a way that doesn’t involve my little boys. To be fair, I use my brain a fair amount in conversations with friends, but this is a little different.

Anyways, I’m really over here waffling about today about nothing, aren’t I?

I’m going to be completely honest; I think we’ve gotten a whole travel, home, travel, home routine down now. It’s funny because we will spend a fair amount of a month to a month and a half away, between day trips and long weekends, and then we will have a month to a month and a half at home. It’s become a bit of a thing over the past bit of time that I’ve noticed. It’s interesting because right when I start to want to just be home for a bit, or starting getting that travel bug, we will go into a stretch of that time.

We’ve been home for about a month and a half (at this moment), since our last Castle-ing Weekend (HERE, HERE, HERE), and I’m starting to get that travel itch. I’m starting to long to explore new places, find new adventures, and learn about different places around us. LUCKILY, our travel times line up well with this, otherwise I’d be looking for last minute options just to do it. We have two trips planned in November, A LOT of Christmas Market trips in December, and a Winter Holiday after Christmas. I would guess that by the time we will finish our Winter Holiday, I’ll be ready to be home for a while again.

 

I’m not sure of any other way to do it. It’s funny because I always figured we would approach traveling as maybe do one to two bits a month, with the longer vacations whenever they factor in. That hasn’t really worked for us though. Between Robert’s schedule for work, and just how the cookie has been crumbling we’ve found these stretches of time that we can do a lot during before everything buckles down. It’s like an on again off again schedule and it really ends up working out better for us.

 

Truth be told, I don’t know if I’d like to travel any other way than for what seems like weeks on end (it’s not really weeks on end, but more back to back day/long weekend style trips).

 

Tell me, how would you like to travel? Would you like to go, go for a chunk of time and then be home for a chunk of time OR just take a long weekend every couple weeks, with the bigger trips factoring in the same two times a year? I’m curious as I feel like everyone is different in this aspect.

 

I would also be curious to know whether you would start off your travel with close to “home” short trips OR if you would go as far as you could? We are all such different travelers that this is something fun to chat about and share experiences.

 

Beyond that, I’ve been spending the past couple of days looking forward. I’ve been looking at December’s blog posts (all travel and/or Christmas related) as well as starting to look at some of the intentions and goals that I have for 2020. It’s crazy to think that the year (and decade as everyone keeps reminding us all) is coming to an end. It’s been a wild one for us and I’m excited to look back at it, as well as look forward into the new year.

 

What else to share? There’s not really anything else. It really hasn’t been too exciting over here. But it’s coming. The excitement is coming.

 

How are you? How have things been? I’d love to hear!