A Little Life Chat

The second half of June has historically been a time of reflection for me. It is the halfway point of the year and a good time to sort of do a little check in and evaluate. So that’s what we are doing today. It’s a bit early, but I felt like it was just…right. That and I don’t have my next Castle’s post fully ready to post ha-ha.

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So, 2020. What a year so far, right?! We’ve faced a global pandemic and a global uprising/protest. We’ve seen communities, families, strangers all come together to accomplish some incredible things. I’ve learned some things about myself, about those that I am close to, and how to get uncomfortable. 2020 is going to be a year for the history books and I think we are going to see some real changes moving forward in regard to both the pandemic and the uprising. We aren’t going to go back to “normal” because that wasn’t working, but I do think the changes that we are starting to see, and initiate will lead to a better world. I don’t want to call anything a “new normal” because “normal” in any sense just doesn’t work for us anymore. It makes it sound like we are just striving to the average way of life, instead of always striving to do better, be better, make better changes.

For us as a family 2020 has been full of changes so far as well. We’ve seen our oldest go into his first session of preschool, to then do virtual schooling, our youngest has grown quite the little personality, and both have narrowed down their current interests quite a bit (dinosaurs, cars, Lego’s, and trains are the top). We’ve gone through a couple of work separations, work changes, and some disappointing news that I’m not sharing just yet ( I KNOW how annoying that is, but it’ll come).

It’s also ONLY June. We still have a full half a year to go in 2020.

Something else I kind of wanted to do was do a little check in on some of my resolutions that I shared. I want to see where I stand with them, while understanding that a lot of things have drastically changed from when I wrote those in late December.

So, my New Year’s Resolutions post can be found HERE

My first goal was to spend the first half of the year focusing on my website and SEO. I’ve been doing quite a bit of learning in this area, but haven’t yet gotten on Pinterest. When quarantine hit I thought it was going to be a great chance to really focus and hone in as, well…we couldn’t do anything else. But, as I quickly learned it was the complete opposite of that and trying to make drastic changes was not in my wheelhouse. I plan to refocus this goal to the second half of the year and have a good Pinterest thing going in the next 3 months or so.

My second overarching goal applied to the second half of this year (in regards to writing and publishing), so I still have time on that one!

My next group of goals was in regards to content. I wanted to make sure that what I was posting was what I felt 100% about and not to feel pressured to constantly be posting. I think that I’ve actually been really good at this, partly because of Covid-19, but also just because I’ve tried to be very intentional about posting. I love sharing and writing, but I also want to continue to enjoy that. I took a bit of time in February off, there were a couple weeks in March (or maybe April) where I only posted once a week, and that all just felt good. It keeps me feeling fresh and allows me a breather to re invigorate myself and my content.

The next group was in regards to reading, family time with my boys, travel, and quality time. I was doing better about reading a wider variety of books, but I’ve recently (like many others) been reminded that I can continue to do better in this area. I am pledging to myself to not only read a wider variety of genre’s and stories, but read a wider variety of authors. As for the family time with the boys, well we’ve been really forced into that, haven’t we? I will say in so many ways this has been so good for our family. We’ve really just gotten a chance to be together without the whole outside world distracting us. It’s been nice for the boys to have mommy and daddy home all the time, but it’s made our recent work separation all that much harder.

We all know what is going on with travel and the lack of it due to Covid-19. However, we recently just were informed that our restriction for travel within the country of Germany has been lifted so I am eagerly looking for some getaways within the country. We are also starting to hopefully be able to plan for some Fall or Winter trips. Keeping our fingers crossed.

My final goal was to do more date nights with my husband and well…that’s gone about the same way as the travel goal ha-ha. Hopefully though, now that our restrictions are being lifted more and more we can start doing those date nights again. I know that I am ready for some kid free time with my husband.

So, that’s my check in on 2020 so far. As we go into the second half of the year, I want to continue to listen, inform, and better educate myself on our community and world at large. I want to strive to be better and do better.

How is your 2020 so far?

Two of My Favorite Places

Today I am going to continue on with my daydreaming of travel posts and talk about a couple of places that are very near and dear to my heart.

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You know when you go somewhere, or experience something, and it just sits on your heart? It awakens your soul and just changes you? It may take you by surprise or be something you expect, but it changes you irrevocably. Today I am talking about two places we’ve traveled to that have changed me. They resonated in my soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. One place is one that I knew would feel this way, but the other took me by surprise in a way.

Of course, I’ll link the applicable blog posts in each spot so that you can take a look to see exactly where we went and what we did.

The Highlands, Scotland (INVERNESS, EDINBURGH)

Scotland was a place that I had been dreaming of visiting for as long as I could remember. I had actually been as a baby (as my mother continues to remind me of), but I didn’t remember anything from that trip. There is so much I love about Scotland, that I had loved about it before even stepping foot in the country. The people, the culture, the history, the weather, the landscape; Scotland has so much to offer. But getting to experience that firsthand? It just solidified that this was a place my heart called to and yearns for.

While in Scotland, we divided our time between the southern portion and Edinburgh, and the far Northern reaches of the Highlands and Inverness. I loved both places, but the Highlands is just where my soul lives and breathes. Something about being up in the mountains, in the valleys, in the raw beauty of the wilderness just really lit something deep inside me. Much of our time in Scotland just seems like a blur of contentment. It was funny because in the Highlands we saw a couple of spots (Culloden & Loch Ness being the two big ones), but a good amount of our time was just spent in the little barn cabin we stayed up, watching the storms battle in and out, the grass wave in the wind, and feeling that sense of peace around us. We didn’t have a lot of cellphone service, TV and Internet were limited, and it was incredible.

There are few places that I really want to get back to before our time in Europe comes to an end (and by that I mean, will fight tooth and nail to go back) and this is one of those, possibly the highest on the list. To maybe make it clearer, if I could live anywhere, anywhere in the world, I would choose to live in one of the small villages in the Highlands of Scotland (actually a town similar to where we stayed at on this trip, up in the Black Isle’s/Fortrose area).

Rome, Italy (EARLY DAYS, ANCIENT ROME, VATICAN, LAST DAYS)

I’ve always loved the idea of Italy. Italian food, Italian culture, the history of the country; Italy always just seemed like a warm, welcoming home for the weary traveler. Just like with Scotland, I had dreamed of visiting Italy. Dreamed of driving along the Tuscan hills, seeing the beauty of the Amalfi Coast, hearing the history of Rome and Pompeii. I expected to fall in love. What I didn’t expect was that now, nearly 4 months after our first trip to Italy, that I would still be dreaming, reminiscing, on our time walking through the streets of Rome. But, this trip has had a longer lasting impact on me than just that. It has called me back to some aspects of my life that I had turned away from and it has reignited a love and passion that I had only been nurturing, not following.

There are so many things to talk about with Rome, but I think the biggest thing that has just stayed with me is the history. You are walking amongst buildings and places that are beyond our comprehension of age. Buildings that are beyond our comprehension of size. People who had larger than life dreams and ideas and made them happen. I mean, to walk the streets of Ancient Rome, the same paths that the warriors would take, to see the tunnels of the Coliseum, the baths of Caracalla, The Pantheon, it’s just…breathtaking. There were so many moments where I just didn’t have the words to describe how I was feeling. I had never felt smaller and yet so filled with knowledge.

A couple more things that I didn’t realize would affect me as much as they did…

The people. Rome is FULL OF PEOPLE. Both locals and tourists and we didn’t have one negative moment while we were there. Obviously with the number of tourists it can be hard to see things at times (The Trevi Fountain is insane), but overall it was just one of the warmest most welcoming places we’ve visited. It was so full of life, of passion, of love. The food was incredible as well (which, as a lifelong Italian food eater I expected) and we definitely indulged during our week there. Finally, something else about Rome that I didn’t know I was going to be so affected by was the religion. I’ll be touching more on this in an upcoming blog post, but I came back to some of my roots while we were there and it’s something that has been sticking with me.

So, two very different spots that we’ve traveled to, but two very soul changing experiences. I love that we are getting the chance to experience all that we can while we are here, and I am looking forward to the day that we do get to travel to far off places again.

My Thoughts On: Traditional/Mainstream Media, Social Media, and the Rumor/Gossip Mill

I always said I was going to avoid these topics, but the times…the times call for them so here we go. Please note that this is going to be more catered towards the current Coronavirus situation, but can easily be applied to anything else…like I don’t know, maybe when the election politics start to really begin or when your neighborhood or friend group has a problem.

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I’ll be honest, I don’t really have any answers when it comes to our news and social media these days. I just found myself getting increasingly frustrated with what I was seeing across the board from the traditional media, to influencers, to our local community (aka gossip mill). I needed to ramble my thoughts out and figure out what I can do for myself about it.

What a world we live in today where we can learn just about anything at the drop of a pin. We get notified the moment things happen (sometimes even before they happen), we can share things at quick speeds with friends and family, and ultimately we can be inundated with information round the clock. It can be a truly wonderful thing and something that I have definitely been incredibly grateful for (especially living so far away). However, most good things also have a negative aspect and in this case, that negative aspect can be damaging.

Obviously with Social Media we have talked about how damaging it can be with cyber bullying and such, but that is not what I am going to be referencing today. Today I am going to be talking about what I think some of the other dangers of this rapid media, online world that we live in today.

Danger #1 Bias

Here’s the thing we are all biased. From a very young age we start shaping our mind and how we see the world around us. Our parents play a role, our community plays a role, our friends, where we live, what we see every day, where we go to school, all of these are factors in what our outlook is on the world. This outlook leads (or rather is equal to) our bias. So, we all have a bit of a bias when it comes to…well life. It’s just who we are. This doesn’t mean we are close minded or not open to learning, it’s just important to recognize that we all have a bit of bias.

Now, wouldn’t that make sense to then extend to our news outlets, social medias, friends, etc.? Now, I know, this may sound like such common sense, but I feel like it is so important to keep in mind. We hear about how certain news outlets are biased, but it’s important to remember that most of your news outlets are going to have some sort of bias. From who they hire, to what they publish, to how they advertise what they publish, there is a bias to just about everything. That’s just the nature of the world that we live in.

As with anything, I would check a variety of sources of anything that you read. Obviously, government entities are a good place to get the information from, but if that is not possible (sometimes it won’t be), then looking at various sources is your best bet. Make sure you take the time to fully educate and understand a situation before speaking about it…which brings us to Danger #2.

Danger #2 Misinformation

I think this is hands down one of the biggest dangers of living in the world that we are in today. Information moves so quickly and often times moves faster than the official authorities can actually put the information. For a specific example of this, we can look no further than the current crisis that we are in. In our community information about a confirmed case of Covid-19 was circulating across the community before the official channels could even say something. This led to not only misinformation going around (A LOT of that was going around), but a heightened state of panic started to break out due to that, AND the general public was then calling for answers from the officials in charge.

Now, two things from this…

  • It’s important to wait for information from an official organization. We could debate the merits of sources and of what we hear from our “people”, but at the end of the day it’s all hear say until we get full answers and information. Often times what we are hearing from those around us are only mild versions of what the facts are, that have been distorted by the amount of people that they have heard from. This is obviously different depending on your actual source, if you are hearing from a significant other who is right in the location in the center of the action that is different than someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone. In most cases it is just better to wait for the official statement to stop any sort of misinformation going around.
  • A lot of times when a government organization or official organization (think Military, CDC, WHO, etc.) puts out information they have done so after collecting as much of the accurate information as they can AND exploring different solutions for whatever is going on. They present the facts of the situation and offer up what they are doing/recommending to combat whatever is going on. Often times, if you are getting upset with information NOT being put out, think about what they are trying to do. The first goal should be to collect the facts and implement immediate options for the situation. The first goal is not always notifying the public, this is how panic, and misinformation occurs. Honestly, would you rather be told “Oh hey, here is something serious going on” OR “Oh hey, here is something serious that has happened, BUT we have already taken steps a, b, and c AND here are our recommendations for the next little bit. I know I would rather the second.

If you are not getting answers from an official organization at the time that you are looking around I would either recommend just being patient OR, following the earlier advice of looking at various sites. Don’t go with the first article you read, but rather look across the board at various sites, read various articles, and draw the best conclusion you are able until you can get an official brief. Don’t prevent what you are finding as facts (unless it comes from the aforementioned official organization), but rather as what you have found for your own purposes. Personally, I always recommend that others do their own research and bounce things off of several friends in different sectors while we wait for information.

Danger #3 Too Much at One Time/Being Too Involved

We all know that too much of a thing may not always be good and the same can be applied to media/social media/etc. With just how easy to get the news, to see what others are doing, to be connected, it can become very easy to fall into the trap of being too connected.  It seems to be a fine line as to when the news and being connected is too much. I’ve definitely experienced this and have found that at times, less is more. With the constant news cycle, it is easy to get sucked into always needing to know, to be connected, to have all the information, BUT I find that in some ways this is counterproductive and dangerous. Unfortunately, I don’t really have an answer or solution to this as I think this is just the way our lives trend right now. The only suggestion that I have is to take time away. When you start to feel that way, just step back, step away and take a day to be not so involved.

So, what’s the answer? Again, I don’t really have one. I feel like this is going to be a revolving door issue as we continue to deal with a new vastly online world that has become even more online in the past couple months. I don’t know if any of this has made sense, or if you’re even still reading this (if you are-thank you!), but it’s been a little over 2 months of seeing these Dangers pop up consistently and I felt like something needed to be said. So, here’s me adding my small voice to the loud crowd.

What I’ve Learned from Quarantine

Ah Quarantine. We’ve been under it for almost 2 months now and while most of the country is slowly starting to come back to, what I’m calling, new normal, we are still under a level of Quarantine (this is due to my husband’s work).

Here’s the thing, we have all processed this stressful time differently. I’ve had some incredibly stressful low moments during the past couple months and I’ve definitely had some really great moments too. I didn’t really learn a new hobby, pick up a craft, or do anything truly beyond my normal (except running, but I’ll get to that in a minute). I don’t think that anyone should have felt like they needed to do anything like that. In fact, honestly, I feel like if we’ve all made it through this and are starting to see our light at the end of the tunnel, then that is enough. We all process stress differently and no matter how this has affected you (and it has affected EVERYONE), however you are coping is good. If you’ve become Betty Homemaker Pinterest Goddess, good. If you’ve binge watched everything on Netflix, good. If you’ve started knitting or crocheting, good. If you managed to get out of bed every morning, good.

This post is not about judgement. It’s not about what I think we should have done. It’s not about “oh I’ve done xyz, I’m great”. This post is simply what I’ve learned. How I’ve coped. What our life has been.

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I’ve said from the get-go that in so many ways this has been so good for all of us. It’s been incredibly stressful, anxiety inducing, and full of chaos, but there has been something good about it to. We’ve been forced to stop. To stop being so busy. To stop paying attention to everything BUT what is important. We’ve been forced to slow down. In staying home we’ve had to maybe figure out what is truly important. To try something, we’ve always wanted to try. To spend more time with our family. To find out what works and doesn’t work for our mental health. To learn the good, the bad, the ugly about ourselves. To find out what we need.

That’s not to say that this Quarantine has always been some good, incredible learning experience. It’s had a fair share of low moments. I spent an entire weekend one weekend crying my eyes out from stress. I spent the better part of a weekend on my couch not doing much more than reading, scrolling social media, and binge-watching trashy television. I’ve gotten stressed and frustrated with the whole virtual schooling of a preschooler (I’ve learned that I will never be a preschool or elementary teacher- that is just not for me).

BUT, as I mention the bad, I can’t ignore the good of it too. It seems like for every negative we’ve had, there has been a positive to balance it out. For example, with school. I am not cut out for preschool/elementary school teaching. I just don’t have the patience. I’ve known this for a long time (so not a true revelation about myself) and it wasn’t something that I really was interested in doing. HOWEVER, it has been a dream at times to see Colton learn. I’ve always wanted to see how he was in class and here it is, right in front of me. I get to see his eyes light up as he connects the dots in his brain. I get to see him trying hard to please his teachers, to do every assignment, to learn something new.

For me I found out a couple things- some of which I already knew, but this whole Quarantine has proven just how necessary they are to me. I realized how important quiet time to myself is and how anxious, frazzled, and stressed I get if I don’t have even a little bit of it. I’ve found out how much I do lean on my husband and how important the relationship the two of us has is. I’ve found out that as much as I’m a homebody, I love to travel and to explore just as much. I’ve found that that I really do crave little weekly get together with my friends and that in person chat/connection you get from that. I’ve found that while watching TV isn’t my favorite  pastime, there have been some good shows out there that we’ve gotten to watch (and some not so good, but guilty pleasure shows too).

I’ve been shopping small A LOT more (almost exclusively- curious as to who I support? HERE  is a list of a couple of my favorites) and have been trying to move away from the bigger retailers when I can. I’ve really realized what I actually want to do with my time when I get it. How I want to spend my days. I’ve realized that I much rather spend my time hiking up trails, and wandering old towns than I do wandering a mall (ok, this is one of those things I’ve always known).

I’ve found that as much as I’m looking forward to what this new normal is going to be like, to being able to venture out back into the world, that my thought processes over things have changed. While I’m eager to go to this city down the road from me (a bigger one about 20-30 minutes away), it’s more so because I want to walk the streets, feel those cobblestones underneath my feet, rather than because I want to shop. I’m eager to once again hike among the castle ruins, to see history in front of my eyes, to experience life as it was. These are the things that I’ve missed. I’m eager to cherish the time I can get with my friends, the moments we have together out and about, not what we can actually do. I’ve learned that having those slow moments, those slow weekends, just having a lie in or no plans at all, can be a benefit.

Ultimately, I’ve realized that we are incredible people. We can do a lot and we have empathy. I’ve seen people come together to help out friends, families, neighbors they’ve barely known. I’ve seen an outpouring of love that we haven’t seen in a long time and while this last bit of Quarantine has undoubtedly been the hardest (it’s always the hardest when you can see the end, but aren’t getting there) the amount of care that I’ve seen has been amazing.

I hope that moving forward we hold on to that and that we become a little kinder. A little more compassionate. A little more caring to those around us.

Moving – A Real-Life Moment

Being totally honest- I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I am saying. I am just free writing this in the hope that something will stick. Maybe I’ll come back in a little bit and edit it, maybe I’ll just let it post exactly as it is. We shall see…

A little caveat before we get into my rambling- this is not the post I had originally anticipated posting. This week I had a quarterly favorites post (which will be up on Wednesday) and then was going to do another installment in the Utterly Ridiculous Short Stories of My Life about our HHG delivery. HOWEVER, my brain is fried and quite honestly, every time I look at the partially written short story I just crack a little more. I want to be able to do these posts justice and share good content so instead of giving you a half ass short story, I am going to just blabber for a minute about how I’m actually feeling. I hope this isn’t an issue for anyone.

So, if you haven’t been following along…never mind that – If you are reading this post, you are probably well aware of our move. If you follow me on Social Media you are even more aware of it as I think I’ve mentioned the words “our move” more than anything else…I wish I was kidding,

It’s safe to say that I am very excited about our move. Brief breakdown (just skip two sentences if you don’t want to hear this bit for the umpteenth time), we moved to Germany in February of this year. We’ve been living in a hotel apartment up until a little shy of a week ago. Moving to Europe has been a dream come true and I can say without a doubt that within the first week or two we (as a family) had the overwhelming sense of home. It just feels really good to be here.

More than that, our neighborhood is one of the really good ones in our area. We have had the most welcoming and happy neighbors (on both the American and German side) and our house is perfect for us. The boys have been able to have all of their toys back and they have a large yard to go run laps…err energy off in.

And now? Well now my brain is absolutely fried. My body is exhausted. And I still feel the stress and anxiousness of “things to be done”. I am one of those people that, when moving, has to do it all right then. I don’t take breaks very often in the unpacking/settling in process, preferring to just go, go, go until it is all done. That is a) not a very healthy mindset, and b) not something that is really possible with two kids.

**Side note, but relevant- I am also one of those people who can’t slow down/rest while there is a mess or clutter. It’s all got to be cleaned up and put away before I feel like I can sit down.***

My goal by the end of the first week was to have the house 75-80% completed. I would say as of writing this post (Sunday afternoon), we are at around 60%. No big deal. We’ve got most of the main floor done, minus décor/final touches, and we’ve got pretty much all of the second floor done, again, minus décor/final touches. In some ways I’m feeling really good about where things stand this afternoon. In fact, as I am sitting here, cataloging the rooms in our house, I am getting a little relieved at how much has actually been done.

BUT I know that the moment I walk all the way down the stairs, down to the basement, I’ll be feeling a different type of way. It’s the one area of the house that hasn’t really been touched. In one way it’s because it is a lot of the décor stuff, which we aren’t doing until the end, but also because it is where the things that we don’t know what they are, or don’t know where to put them, go. It’s the stomping ground for everything that doesn’t have an “official” spot yet. And it has quickly devolved into a catastrophe. It’s a catastrophe that is going to be handled this week.

All of the above to say that moving has been the most incredible, exhausting, exciting thing ever. It’s been fun to basically design the interior of our new home, to feel all of the good vibes flowing through our house (this may sound a little out there depending on how you think, but I truly just feel like this house has such a good feeling to it, felt it when we walked through the first time, when we got our keys and off and on throughout the unpacking), but it’s also been absolutely exhausting on both a physical and mental level.

In all the heyday of moving and the excitement of our new home, being in a foreign country, traveling all over, we forget that moving is HARD. There is a lot going on, a lot of sorting, of unpacking, of setting things up. And while I’ve been so excited to set everything up, to find the right spot for all of our furniture (and nick knacks and artwork when that time comes), I’m also sitting here, almost a week in wondering what the hell has happened over the past week.

I know it’s a phase. I know it’s coming to an end. I know we’ve been able to accomplish so much in the short few days we’ve been here. And I know, at the end of this it will feel so good to just be settled and be able to go on vacation and relax. But first we have to get to that point. One cup at a time (which I am brewing a plenty of cups).

It’s the first of July and even though we are not done unpacking, I am hopeful that we are past the worst of it, that we can have this first day of a new month serve as a fresh start. That we can start getting our actual routine back. That I can breathe and start finalizing the little details for our trip this month. I’m feeling positive. Basically: That light at the end of the move tunnel is shining really bright.

So, there’s my current status. I don’t really know if this has made any sense at all. If you’ve moved recently, let me know how it went for you! Also, let me know if you are a go, go, go kind of person or a take the needed breaks kind of person.

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 8 – Worn Out

It’s been a few weeks! How are you??? How has the past month or so treated you?

It’s been a whirlwind for us. We had the movers come and pack our house up, ship it, and start the move out clean process. We got some heartbreaking family news that had us moving our vacation plans up a day (along with some weather coming in). From the moment we got in till now it’s been a second whirlwind and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worn through by now. I hit that worn out wall and hit it hard.

As an introvert, I find it absolutely necessary to pull away from everything for a little bit in the early afternoon whether that means diving into my book or just stepping into our room to breathe for a minute. I have got to have that little bit of time to just re charge my batteries or it is a mess. Thankfully I’ve had a relatively quiet day to relax and take it a bit easy before we head straight back into everything.

I think in some ways this move has taken a lot more out of me then our past ones. I don’t know if it is us moving overseas, us having two kids now, us dealing with some other issues. I think it is honestly probably a combination of all of them. Aside from the one bit, it hasn’t been anything bad, it’s just been A LOT. I’m kind of hoping that this coming week things can calm down a bit and we can have some semblance of “normal”.

A couple of things that I’ve really been loving over the past few weeks (which aren’t really anything new or exciting for me):

 

  1. Reading. I’ve been doing lots and lots of reading. From the start of the year I’ve already read 3 or 4 books. One of the better one’s was Us Against You by Frederik Backman. I’m currently reading A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and have quite the stack of books for our move.
  2. A Discovery of Witches the TV Show. On of my all time favorite book series has been turned into a TV Show. I’m only 3 episodes in (I’m trying REALLY hard not to binge watch them, but savor them…we’ll see how that works after this weekend.
  3. Standard English Breakfast Tea. I haven’t had just standard black tea in the mornings in a long time (having favored a berry flavored with extra black) and while I still like my original concoction, I have been reaching for an English Breakfast Tea (or Scottish) first thing in the morning.
  4. Heeled Boots. After years and years of flat boots I have found two pairs of heeled boots that I am obsessed with.
  5. Journaling. I have to admit- this has kind of fallen by the way side a little bit. We’ve been so go, go, go, but over the past day or two I have done a little bit first thing in the morning and it is just a really nice way to start the day (after a bit of yoga).

Drop a comment below and tell me what you’ve been up to the past couple weeks and what things you have been loving lately.

2018 Wrap Up

I cannot believe that another year has passed! 2018 was a year of growth for me. Growing in myself, in my roles, watching my children grow, watching my marriage grow. I do the whole one word year concept and looking back as much as I didn’t choose the word “Grow” for my word in 2018, I really should have. I’m in a bit of a reflective mood as this year comes to a close (pretty normal).

We went through highs and lows and really learned a lot.

We celebrated: birthdays (Colton turned 2, Andrew turned the big 1, I turned 27, the Mr turned 32), a wedding anniversary (4 years!), a dating anniversary (does anyone actually do those? We hit 7 years together), and just the little every day moments that have started to become more and more important as life flies by.

We loved: I fell deeper and deeper in love with my husband, our children have shown us a love like no other, and I also fell in love with new experiences, new books, new teas, a couple (ok more than a couple) new mugs.

We learned: better communication skills (more so me getting better and asking for help when it is needed), how to balance life (we both took on a lot over the past year and had to work through how to balance everything), more about who we are as people and who we are as a family, how to adapt to an ever changing hard to plan everything life change (our big move!). Both kids have taken huge leaps with learning, constantly learning new skills and keeping us on our toes at every turn over the past year.

We traveled: Colonial Williamsburg, Kentucky, Canada, the zoo (multiple times), and all around DC. Our trips this year have been some of the best memories that we’ve ever made. Seeing family, new places, and crossing places off of different bucket lists has been a dream come true for us. Getting away and being together (whether it is just to visit family or go somewhere completely new) has always been a big part of our years and is a big part of our future plans.

Some of my favorite moments in the past year have been the one’s where we just were. No plans, no fancy home cooked meal, just us with some takeout in our sweats on the couch watching a movie. Watching my boys grow and learn and build their own little relationship with each other. I could go on and on about my favorite moments, my favorite things, my favorite books, etc, but there was A LOT! I have a hard time narrowing down my favorites to just a few things- I’ll spare us all that agony haha.

This past year has tested us, adjusting to two very active children in the second half of the year, trying to balance being a parent, with working and following my passions was a tricky path to navigate. Constantly feeling like I wasn’t doing enough, or getting enough done, and trying to figure out how to focus on everything at once was one of the biggest hurdles I faced this year.

I also want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you. To reading all of my posts, to joining in on my journey. I can’t tell you how much it means to me when you read, comment, and follow along. I never dreamed that even one person (outside my mom, dad, and nearest and dearest) would read what I have to say and now there are quite a few of you! I really appreciate all of you. If I could I would send hugs out to everyone.

We have a lot of changes coming as we look forward to 2019. It is going to be a big year for myself and my family and I can’t wait to continue sharing with you.

Tell me, how was your 2018? Any highs? Lows?

A Little Back End/Brand A Cuppa Cosy Reflection

***This post applies to what I’ve learned over the past year or so with my personal blog. It is not advice for anyone who is trying to run a business or have a full on brand. Just something I’ve come to learn/realize about myself, my blog, my “brand”.

I’ve been working on some behind the scene things in the blogging and social media world. Hemming and hawing over look, messaging, brand, a lot of back end stuff…

There is so much thought that goes into a lot of blog or Social Media postings for anyone. Even for the most random of personal blogs, there is still some planning and thought for posts. If you follow any influencer, or social media “assistant”, or really anyone who helps with these things, the big push is to know what your brand IS. Even as a personal blog it is important to know and differentiate what YOU bring to the table. Knowing that will turn a casual person who just stumbles onto a post into a lifelong follower or even a friend. So, it can be important.

A lot of times we are told to have one “thing”, something that stands out or makes us different from the other million blogs out there. A lot of times you’ll see it on Social Media, accounts use the same style filters for their pictures, or the same style of editing, similar captions…one cohesive look that is “them”.

This is not a BAD thing. It really works well, allows the casual viewer to know who the post is from, what it is saying, it gives an idea of who you are and what your brand is. What you are doing. It’s good to have a logo, a tagline, and a rough color/mood scheme. Beyond that though, I’m not entirely sure.

Here’s the thing…I don’t have a brand or an aesthetic. It’s just…me. What you see is what you get. Sometimes serious, sometimes goofy, always with a mug and a smile. And maybe that’s my aesthetic, I don’t know. All I know is the pressure that is put on bloggers and the like to cultivate your brand, have a certain aesthetic or look to your posts and feed is ridiculous. Sometimes that just isn’t who we are and that’s ok!

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t at least have an idea of what you are wanting to do. What do you want to share, how you want to share, etc, but I don’t think it is essential/a requirement to have a full on aesthetic. It may work for some, it may be beneficial for some, hell for a full business I would agree that it is essential.

But for me?

It’s constricting. It ties me down too much. Because like I said, I’m just me. I don’t follow just one path, and don’t stick to just one thing. I like to explore. I like to change things up fairly regularly. Talk about different things at different times. I like to live in the moment. The ONLY thing that I’ve come to realize stays the same as time passes is that everything I approach, I approach with a smile or a positive outlook, I bounce between being totally goofy/silly and serious, I love my tea and books, and I live honestly.

So, what am I trying to say here? I’m not totally sure, but I’ve just been doing some thinking about how I want to build this blog/brand. How I want to continue to move forward and grow the little community that we are cultivating. My little corner here is starting to grow, to shift and change and I want it to continue to do that in a way that works.

So, while you may not see a certain aesthetic, or a certain look to everything, just know you’ll always be getting me.

Round The Kettle Episode 6: Almost Christmas and A Special Visit!

IMG_7036.jpgI don’t want to cause any panic for anyone (see my earlier post this week about Holiday Stress if you feel panicy), but we are just about one week away from Christmas…

Have you finished your Christmas Shopping? Wrapped your gifts? Mailed any that needed mailed?

I hate to say that we got lucky this year, with our move coming so closely following Christmas, but it has certainly made this year a bit different for us. We didn’t put out any of the normal decorations we would have (because they will simply have to get packed back up ASAP for the movers to get up), we aren’t doing a normal amount of presents (because again, just for the movers to take with them), and I’ve been grateful for that.

This season of Christmas has become so centered around the decorating, the baking, the presents under the tree, but with 2 out of those 3 things essentially being removed, we are being able to focus on what is important to us. The time we get together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together. This is #1 in our books and I am grateful that this year we are being reminded and getting the chance to have that.

Not too mention that next year we will be in Germany for Christmas- and they DO NOT hold back when it comes to Christmas.

We’ve been a little frazzled when it comes to move related things. We’ve been loading up the things that are not going with us (being stored), trying to coordinate last minute appointments that have to be handled before we leave, deciding little things (like clothes, suitcases, toys that are going with us, not the movers). All of this on top of our standard jobs,  parenting, and out of town family visits. It’s all been a bit…much. Not too mention trying to keep a running tab of everything that has to be done.

I’ve been trying to take advantage of the bits of time that are not devoted to packing, working, or other standard home things, and getting us out of the house. My car will be getting shipped within a few days, so I’ve been making it a point of us going places. There will be a few weeks (while we are still here) that we will be down to one car and I want to make sure that any non important things get done now. That includes…visiting Santa!

That’s right, we went to go see the big man himself this past week. It was Andrew’s first visit and Colton’s second (we missed a year). The visit was a fun one and we got to scope out some big toys at the same time as we visited Santa at Cabela’s! The boys reactions were a bit surprising, my outgoing talk to anyone Colton did not want to sit on Santa’s lap (although he did run up and talk to him) and my shy, cling to mom Andrew gave a smile and might have actually sat on his lap! You can see the picture below and , despite Andrew’s face, they had a lot of fun seeing both Santa and all of the treats at Cabela’s.

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So, how are you? How are you feeling about it being so close to Christmas? Are you ready or are you just letting the time go and soak up the family time?