Spice Has TWO Babies

It’s true! The twins have arrived! Granted, they made their debut on February 24th, 2016 but as you can imagine I’ve been quite busy!

Here we were getting ready for the big moment! And yes…I was huge. I see that.

Their birthday was a whirlwind. I can barely remember any of it! (I was also drugged lol). We did a c-section for safety reasons and at 9:39am out came Baby A with a wail! The doctor said,”He’s got a full head of blonde hair!” Imagine my shock when I heard that! I thought for sure he couldn’t possibly be mine! A blonde?! 🙂 Lucky me!

Let me introduce you to Arjen (R-yen) Paul. Previously know as Baby A or Alpha. Weighing a cool 6lbs 15oz and 20.5 inches long.

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As he was being weighed Baby B made his way into the world with eyes wide open and quietly taking it all in. Which I would soon learn is a stark contrast to his current personality. Read: drama queen. With a full head of brown hair this little guy took a while to cry it out but eventually got the hang of it.

Let me introduce you to Landon Thomas. Previously known as Baby B or Beta. Weighing in at 5lbs 9oz and 19.5 inches long.

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Afterwards, we got to hang out in a recovery room where I got sick from all the meds (yay) and grandma and grandpa got to hold their new grand babies for the first time. And Toblerone was just attached to them both and so in love. I however was sicker than sick so I could care less what was happening around me! Or maybe that was the drugs?

I was sooooo out of it in the pictures but there is happy Daddy!

We got to ring the lullabye announcement twice which was pretty special. Once in our room where we would stay to recover from the hectic morning it became more insane! Babies everywhere, nurses barking out rules and information that I couldn’t comprehend. Our room was like an afternoon on Wall Street. Everyone talking, no room to move! At least from my perspective, that’s how it all felt.

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This particular hospital is baby friendly which means no nursery and babies sleep in the room with you. I use that term “sleep” lightly. As you know…that isn’t what happens with newborns. Let’s just say the exhaustion hasn’t stopped since that morning. (They are now 11 weeks old!)

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Harley meeting his baby brothers for the first time!

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It’s been a crazy ride since then and although we are still trying to get to know each other I’m sure the fun will never end! I am officially a twin mom. That’s pretty special 🙂

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Until next time, Readers! Xoxoxoxo

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How To Fly With Your Pup

I’ve been promising people I would write this post since I’ve flown with our Labrador overseas twice now (Poor baby!). So here we are! Finally getting down to the nitty gritty of how to fly with your pup. Most of us can’t afford private jets so this is how it is done!

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Flying to Germany the first time, Harley was ten months old. Just a little itty bitty baby! Except he wasn’t THAT little. If you do have one of those ankle biter dogs (20lbs or less), then buy a carry on bag for him and bring him with you. But those of us with bigger dogs have to do things a bit differently. So first things first!

Going away for a few weeks and want to bring your pet?? DON’T!!

You are only going to make your pup’s life miserable. Do him a favor and find him a place to stay for the time you are away. Unless you are actually moving your life, don’t put your pet through this. It’s very stressful for them and it’s very stressful on you as well. Dogs can get all sorts of issues like reactivity, fear aggression, and social issues. New smells and unfamiliar places can really effect the behavior your dog.

Considering using a pet service??? DON’T!

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ! Many people have looked into shipping their pet with a specific service. We had visited the offices of PETAIR in Frankfurt and spoke with the manager there. He HIGHLY recommended against shipping our dog with them for one very good reason. These airline services are great for large animals like elephants, horses, or even exotic pets like snakes, etc. For a domestic animal like a dog or cat its not needed. The way these services work is they do all the customs documentation for you but you have to consider that your pet is in their care hours before takeoff and once they do reach their final destination, the animal must stay in the crate behinds the scenes for an additional 4-6 hours JUST to go through customs. Whereas when you ship your dog as “cargo”, he is brought right off the plane with the baggage. No waiting, no customs other than what you go through in the airport.

 

1. CHOOSE AN AIRLINE

Here, let me help you. There are two things you are looking for when choosing a flight.

A. The most direct flight possible: The stress on an animal when having to switch flights is immense. And not to mention, you are not allowed to see them between flights. They can not leave their crate and can not see you. The less time they have to spend alone, the better. (We chose a direct flight from Newark to Zurich. For the second time Frankfurt to Detroit.) Most airlines will state their restrictions or guidelines for traveling with a pet. Do the research before you book a flight.

B. How does the airline handle animals: We checked around at a few and we chose without a shadow of a doubt, Lufthansa. Why? Because even though your pup has to travel in the baggage container doesn’t mean they have to be completely uncomfortable. Lufthansa has an actual specified place for live animals that is climate controlled. Our captain told me after the flight that he kept an eye on the air pressure in the area our Harley was and he really tried to keep the ride as smooth as possible. Very reassuring. Note: Very important that you aren’t flying during extreme weather. Not in hot season: June – August or cold season : December – February.

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Harley waiting to go into the airport shortly before his big adventure! One last whiff of German air!

Be sure to reserve or book your dog’s flight and to speak with the airline to make sure that all information is connected to your ticket. Each airline only allows a certain amount of animals on each flight.

2. GET A CRATE

This is one of the most important parts. If you do not have the correct size to comfortably fit your dog and for him to be able to stand and turn around in it, the airline reserves the right to deny your dog on the flight. And they have done this so be certain! We got the largest crate possible for our guy to make sure he had enough room. He’s also 86lbs so it works for him.

Harley testing out his crate.

Harley testing out his crate.

Here is a calculator to find the right size crate for your pup: click here

Not all crates come with the water holder and we found a good one on amazon but you can find many at Lixit. More like what you would see in a Gerbil cage but its better that it doesn’t spill all over in a turbulent situation on the plane. Make sure you get one that has a bottle attachment for the crate. Some airlines require that you have water for your animal. Test this out with them prior to the flight as well so they know how to use it.

3. INTRODUCE THE CRATE

If you’re dog is like ours, he doesn’t use a crate at home. He only did when he was potty training in the beginning of his life. Once we had the crate we washed it completely and put a few of his toys and blankets inside. When he would go in the crate, he would get a treat. This helped him associate the crate as a good thing! His is big enough that we could actually sit inside with him so we did that from time to time too. It’s like a little fort! 🙂

Harley's crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy's scent to keep him calm

Harley’s crate with his dog bed, blankies, favorite toys, and a shirt with mommy’s scent to keep him calm

You will want them to get used to the crate and associate it as a “safe” thing several months before you fly.

4. KNOW YOUR AIRPORT

I did all the background research to see if the airports we were flying to had a special “Dog Only” park or grass area. I did the google maps search to also look for any kind of walking area for him. You can also look on the airport’s website or call the information desk at the airport to ask them. Some airports even have dog areas inside the gate area.

5. UPDATE MEDICAL RECORDS

In order to fly anywhere, first it’s important to find out what the restrictions are for that country you are traveling to. Some countries require containment for up to 6 months, which I can’t imagine is enjoyable for the pet or for you. We were flying to Germany and of course back to the US 4 years later. What we needed for both countries was the same.

1. Dog must be micro-chipped.

2. Health records must be up to date with kennel cough and rabies immunizations.

3. You will need a signed health certificate from the veterinarian no more than 10 days before you fly.

4. Check with your vet to make sure that the pup has no illness or any other issues that could restrict him from flying like heart problems or arthritis.

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In Germany they actually gave us a little passport for him with all Harley’s info so that was cute and helpful!

6. TO DRUG OR NOT TO DRUG?

The only time I would suggest you see the vet about medicating your animal before flying would be in EXTREME situations. If your dog is nervous about everything at home, has severe anxiety, has the tendency to bite or attack when in extreme situations then I would say go for it. But if you are to do that…be sure to test the medication on your animal several days before you go. Be prepared that they may not be able to move, they won’t use the bathroom, and are completely lethargic. They won’t sleep..but it will look like they are really messed up.

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

Harley unable to move after testing out anxiety medication meant for a 35lb dog

We tested it on our dog but wanted to give him a very small dosage just to take the edge off as this was his second time. The Vet gave us medicine that she would normally give to a 35lb dog. Our dog is 85lbs… so..no harm no foul right? Wrong. We gave him one tablet and he was ridiculous. Couldn’t move from off the floor, we had to put him on the couch. It was awful. I felt so bad! The day of the flight I gave him less than a quarter of a pill and he still did all his crazy things, I think it just took the edge off.

If your dog is too medicated (not walking on his own, lethargic, etc.) the airline will not allow him on the flight. And for good reason.

The reason you shouldn’t medicate your pup is so they can self-regulate. When it’s too cold they won’t know to huddle to stay warm and their heart won’t work as it should to produce energy and warmth. You don’t want this in a plane where no one can get to him. He needs to get up and move a little bit to circulate his blood. He won’t be doing that when medicated. And the result of not being able to do this could be fatal.

 7. EXTRA TIPS AND TRICKS

– The first time around we made the mistake of making the 5 hour drive to Newark airport and then putting ourselves and the pup on a plane ride for 9 hours immediately following. We learned a hard lesson that time as first-timers and flying back to the states we drove the 3 hours to the airport (to get the most direct flight of course) and stayed overnight at the airport hotel with our furry guy. We were able to wake up early, go for a nice walk and have play time before heading to the airport.

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

Harley relaxing in the airport hotel the night before his big adventure!

– We brought an extra bags of food (thrown into a plastic grocery bag) and brought them in our suitcase and carry on. We knew we would have to invest in food once we arrived so we had quite a bit with us to transfer Harley properly into his new food.

– Stay calm! Dogs pick up on fear and stress from their pet parents. Take a few deep breaths and remain calm.

– On top of the crate place a note and/or a picture of your pup with his family members. Write the information of the flight they will be traveling on so that the workers behind the scenes see him more as a family member and take a little bit more caution.

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So there you have it! Input from a regular old gal who experienced it all first hand! I hope this helps you in your travels wherever you may go with your furry family member. If you have any questions or think I left something out, please let me know in the comments!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

 

Counting Down The Days

We can almost count on two hands the days we have left here in Germany. It’s been slightly hectic but not too much that it feels as if everything is spiraling out of control. I’ve been packing to keep me busy since I left my job at the end of July. The wedding came and went and now here we are. Next chapter! Just like that!

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I’ve been actively searching for homes and there is a massive amount to choose from! Our Realtor sent me over almost 90 properties to start sorting through a while back and we’ve finally figured out what we are looking for. Location is key for work and also easy to get to stores, city, etc. And my number one main “must-have” is a fence for our dearest Harley Noodle Jones Butt Butt. I just want to be able to let him outside so he can run free around his “own space.”  Waterfront is also ideal but not a necessary factor at the moment since there are so many lakes around us!

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Today Harley and I ventured out to our favorite spot, “The Butterfly Field” and through the woods…which is also a mansion for ticks and other such things! He had a little bit of a photo shoot and loved all the snacks he was getting! Living it up in the place we called home the last three and a half years.

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There are many new houses being built directly behind us blocking our entire bedroom and bathroom windows. In a year from now, our house won’t be the home we once had. This town won’t be what it once was. Things are changing, people are coming and going and that’s just how life is!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

 

Wouldn’t You Like To Know – My Life Lately

Oh my dear lovelies! I have been SO SO SO behind on blogging and every day I put it off the more I avoided it! I’m forcing myself to give you all an update on my life! Lots going on and its only fair I let you all in on the deets!

Back when I came to Germany in 2011. A brunette!!

Back when I came to Germany in 2011. A brunette!!

First and foremost…I celebrated a BIG anniversary. March 1st hit the 3 years in Germany mark. Can you believe that nonsense?! THREE WHOLE YEARS! IN GERMANY! Like wait….what? I’m not exactly sure how that happened. If you think about what you yourself have accomplished or done in the past three years you’ll realize…its a good chunk of time. It’s also enough time for life to go on without you back home and you start to notice it. People have asked me if being an expat gets easier but I think that depends on the person. Some people really have that travel bug and “want” or “need” to explore. I, however, just want to be around my family and things that are familiar. For me, in three years, I still want nothing more than to be in the US. This also has a lot to do with where we are located (far from cities, bars, bowling, clubs, great lounges, good restaurants, festivals etc.) We rely a lot on the company of each other and the family get-togethers. But even that, as special as it is, gets dull over time. I just keep trucking along though and try to soak in the experience and be thankful that I get this opportunity. Most people I know will NEVER get this chance in their life. Love makes us do crazy things and I would move around the world 100 times just to be with Toblerone. Harley Jones Noodle Butt Butt wouldn’t like that so much though…he’s not a fan of flying. 🙂

Harley Jones is NOT a fan of airplanes and he's here to tell you all about it!

Harley Jones is NOT a fan of airplanes and he’s here to tell you all about it!

Secondly…we have 5 months until our wedding! 161 days from this post! WHOA! I feel like I have nothing together and I probably don’t actually but thats ok. We have SO many Germans flying to the US for this, in fact I think the airlines should give us free tickets for 5 years considering how much money people are spending for this. But how cool is that? People are coming all the way to America just to see our wedding (and of course travel) but this fills my heart to the brim. And as if things couldn’t get better, so many unexpected people from the US are coming too! I thought for sure people wouldn’t come because it’s a destination wedding on Cape Cod. I’m just incredibly stunned and so overjoyed there are no words for how complete this makes me feel. On top of it all, most of these people are taking time out of their lives and staying several days or even the whole week on the Cape with us. I…I just….I’m speechless. Speechless from the outpouring of love. I get to spend a whole week surrounded by incredible people. How did I get so lucky? How do you thank people? How do you return the love you’re being given? Just such a beautiful time ahead of us and I can not WAIT. Mattespalooza here we come! Plus we are having a real deal Cape Cod Clam Bake and I can’t wait to watch people get down and dirty crackin lobsters! My dress will be a giant mess! A ceremony followed immediately by a rock the dress session! LOVE!

Mmm....clambakes!!

Mmm….clambakes!!

I’ve been bad with blogging due to work and just being utterly exhausted. However, Toblerone and I gave up drinking alcohol for lent and it seems to be a lot better. Plus we are working out together and such which makes the nights nicer. Strange how it does make a slight difference in our lives! Have any of you done that as well? I mean, some days I would just LOVE to have a glass of wine but its worth it in the end! Plus I better be 10 pounds lighter!

There is big news on the horizon but I have to wait to tell you in the middle of April or so. I hate to hold out on you BUT its important that I do for many reasons. And no, I’m not pregnant, sadly. This may/may not be equally as good though! Stay posted and in the meantime try to guess what it is! Thank you all for hanging by me while I pull my head out of the ground and get back to what I love – writing!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxo

Engagement Pics Are HERE!!!

We only had to wait exactly one week for our pictures and I am SO excited to share them with you guys. Our friend is a great photographer and mostly did scenic shots but is just starting to get into doing people, weddings, etc. And in my opinion, he’s off to a great start! It certainly wasn’t easy with two languages flying back and forth plus a VERY rambunctious 3.5 year old puppy! Harley was playing with his frisbee all morning and being a big crazy. For the “picnic” shots I put his frisbee in our picnic basket to make him sit there! lol. It’s not as easy as it looks!!

The most special part about our pictures is that all were taken here in our little town. This way, no matter where we are in the world, we can always look back on these pictures and have a piece of this chapter of our lives with us forever. We could have gone somewhere else around Germany or even had the pictures done in the US but then Germany would just be a blurb. Somehow we have to mix both worlds in this whole process and this was the best option! I hope you like them!

Note: Images are not as sharp as they should be because I had to downsize the file! 🙂 But you get the idea!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxo

June Vacation In ‘Merica!

There were several reasons why we decided to take our vacation in June rather than the mandatory 3 weeks vacation in August. One of them being the cheaper flights. Since most companies shut down for August, everyone goes on vacation. The airlines aren’t idiots so they charge a good 500-600 Euro more. We got our flights so cheap (considerably) that it was without a doubt, the best time to fly home! We only had 2 weeks so we made sure to make it count!

We had a beautiful send off in Switzerland from the Alps:
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We got to play with our sweet nephew:

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We visited lots with friends:

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We played with Harley Jones Noodle Buttbutt’s cousins:

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And most importantly, we got to be with family:

With my mom and my sister

With my mom and my sister

My parents at their lake!

My parents at their lake!

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We got to spend quite a bit of time on the lake where my parents will build their house. My mom and step dad bought some water front property and we can’t wait to spend many summers there and Christmases with everyone. It’s a dream! 🙂 AND….it just happens to be where Toblerone and I are getting married (again!)

We also took a little get away from wedding planning while we were in NY to head to our favorite place, Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Of course June is still a bit cold but more on this later in the week. As well as some insight into my wedding dress shopping!

We miss the US every.day. And its not just my homesick ass, the Toblerone misses it to. The “relaxed nature” of the Americans is the biggest thing we miss when we’re back here in Germany.

Til we meet again, ‘Merica. We miss you.

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxo

A Father’s Day Picnic

Father’s Day in Germany was May 17th. It’s normally a day where all the men get together and hike to bars and restaurants, drinking the whole way. Must be nice since on Mother’s Day nothing special happens…just the usual cake and maybe a present.  Sometimes this country is totally ass-backwards! I think mother’s should have a drinking extravaganza EVERY DAY!

So this year Toblerone and I didn’t do anything special but spent the day with Harley and had a picnic. There’s this beautiful creek down a few miles from us and Harley LOVES to go splash around and be a crazy man so it was perfect. The weather was warm and sunny – perfect time to break out my awesome new picnic basket for the first time. Check this baby out! (Didn’t try hard enough to get a good angle but the thing is huge!)

And here is the rest of the day!

 

(Side Note: Today (May 22nd) is my baby sister’s birthday – She’s 18!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIDGET!!!!)

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo