Another Big Move

I’ve been really quiet since my rebirth and that’s because we have big news to share!

Most know the story but for some of you who are new here, I’m from NY. No…not NYC…the state of NY. Specifically, Upstate (the better part of NY altogether!) The only thing NYC has to do with upstate is the atrociously high taxes it causes us! Toblerone and I met there actually. It holds a very special place in our hearts and of course our friends and most of my family is there.

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I try to think back about when I first decided to follow him to Germany and I must have been drunk. I’m surprised I went at the end of the day. That was a major risk and I think my little 25yr old brain didn’t have ANY idea of what I was getting into. Somehow I thought, “I’ll just move back home if I don’t like it!” The reality is, I can’t just go home when my “home” (Harley and Tobes) wouldn’t be coming with me. It was more complicated than I thought.

I went to Germany with a huge carry on bag of German cuisine cookbooks (seriously) very unsure of what my future would hold and after 4 years it giving it the old college try, we decided moving back to the states was best for us. Tobes got a job that shipped us over to Michigan and although it was the US, it still was 9+ hours away. So I went from a 9+ hour flight to an equally as long of a drive. Not sure it was a win.

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Chilling at a winery in the black forest

Every time that we did make it back to NY we always talked about how our hearts were warm and we felt relaxed. Much of that has to do with the atmosphere my mom’s house presents and also because of the friendships we have there. We have a tribe.

The goal was always to make it back closer to family and out of nowhere the stars aligned and here we are…going back to NY. We’ll be 20 minutes from everyone and we are bubbling over from excitement thinking about how different our life will be now. Not just for us but for the kids.

Ten years later…home. I’m no longer tribeless.

Finally holidays that will mean something. Traditions to continue. Birthday parties to have. It all finally makes sense. Finally.

We left a couple days before Thanksgiving and we’ve been shacking up with the prenatal units until we close on our new house after New Years. It’s been a surprisingly easy transition. The kids are adjusting nicely and Toblerone fits right in at his new job. All is well so far!!

Until next time, Readers!!! Xoxoxoxo

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

 

Getting Settled In

We’ve officially been in the states for 5 days now and it has been…hmm…what is the word. Peaceful? Eye-opening?

All the anxieties I picked up in Germany are shown in full color here in the US. For example, I was at the deli section in the grocery store yesterday and I saw that the sliced chicken breast that I love was empty in the case. So I asked the young girl behind the counter if she had anymore and she said she would just have to slice some up. Instantly, I got nervous and anxious and very timidly asked her if it would be ok if I asked her to cut me up some. She gave me the strangest look and said, “Of course! Thats my job!”  In Germany people would huff and puff about helping you out. This shield will hopefully break down eventually. IMG_9998

People in general are SO friendly here. We took Harley out to swim at a little park area and an older man got out of his jeep to take some pictures of the water. I got really nervous about Harley because as we know, he loves to go up and say hi to everyone! The man said, “Oh hello there!” and Harley went back to the water to play. We had a great conversation with him for a while. Its just so easy to meet people and make friends here, I just completely forgot. This shield will hopefully break down eventually too.

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We have a cleaning lady come every week to our apartment. She’s so happy and friendly and we ended up talking to her for a long time, keeping her away from her job! oops! But she was talking to us about dogs and letting us in on the know-hows about the area, she called the Vet she goes to to let them know about our pup needing to come in to get his check up. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel so alone. This shield will hopefully break down eventually too.

Its all just a matter of figuring out which culture to fit in with. I did my best to fit in with the German culture when I was there and now I have to relearn what it means to be an American. Although, I’m not so sure I will ever be like how I was. And I’m happy with that. I’m a better person because of the time I lived in Germany and for that, I am truly thankful!

So 5 days in and we are looking at our second round of houses today. The first round was ok but man, some people just do NOT take care of their homes! The search is on for our perfect place and we are optimistic and excited! Our container should be arriving in a few weeks so we are slightly rushed to find a place because we have no where to unload all this stuff! Yikes!

Will update you all later with our travel over here (and how to travel with a dog) as well as our going away party and Omi’s 90th birthday party!!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

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

 

The Big Secret Reveal!!!

For those of you who have been following along on the Facebook blog page you have seen the “hints” I’ve given about the big secret I’ve been keeping from you all!
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I was waiting until I was able to tell my work which I have as of yesterday so I am free to announce it to the world!
But just to clear up the rumors…

No…we are not having a baby…..

Nope….not getting a second dog either…

Moving to France??….God no.

Win the peanut butter lottery? Not exactly but close!

It’s even better than that….WAYYYY better!!!

Wanna know now?

Am I annoying you yet?

Can’t keep your pants on you’re so excited?!!?

Ok…well…here it goes!!!

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Toblerone and I are MOVING!!!!! Where, you ask?…..BACK TO THE USA!!! 🙂 He got a great job transfer opportunity and we are taking the 3 year contract to travel to Michigan! We are just so excited about this next step in our lives. We have so many new memories to make! This “East Coast” girl is about to be a “Mid-West” girl! 🙂

I was saying all along that this year is without a doubt our year. Everything is coming together perfectly. We are really really blessed! We have our massive week long celebration of our wedding in Cape Cod, MA in August and then we fly back to Germany quickly to oversee the packing of our house and ship out our container. We will fly back to the states, to Michigan sometime towards the end of September.

Tell me we are crazy! I just know we are but we both feel like this is the next chapter to our story. Our super incredible amazing story.

As for the blog, I will try my best to keep it up because being an expat is just as important as re-expatriating. I’m not sure I fit in anymore to be totally honest. I’m changed now. I speak two languages, I understand a second culture completely and half of my heart will truly be left here in Germany. It’s a hard transition no matter what we do. The hardest part of falling in love with someone from a different country is knowing that somewhere down the line someone will have to make a sacrifice as far as where you will live goes.

I’ve been here a little over 3 years now and I feel so incredibly grateful that I got to have this opportunity. It is possible that maybe one day we find ourselves back in Germany but we kind of like to fly by the seat of our pants. And so the story goes…

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So there you have it. I no longer have to keep this secret in because it was truthfully eating away at me! I’m not good at keeping my own secrets!

Thoughts? Comments? Know of any “Must-See/Do” things in Michigan??? We are looking forward to hearing what you think!

Until next time, Readers!!!!!xoxoxoxoxo

I Live In A Place That… (Part Four)

Back again with more delicious treats of the place I live in! If you missed the other three parts find them here:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

And now…on with the show!

I Live In A Place That……..

….When you enter a restaurant or office you say hello or good afternoon. And when you leave…the same. I learned this the hard way. Walked into my doctors office waiting room filled with people and said nothing. I got a few glares and just tried to avoid looking at anyone. Then a lady came in, said good morning, and all responded in chorus. Whoops…don’t mind the unfriendly American!
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….Tells you where the radars are on the radio. There are radar stands that replace the need of police but if you are even one notch over the limit these radars will snap your picture and blind you with a bright red light. There are many that are set up temporarily to surprise you from the ones that you know are always there. And these temp ones are called in to the radio and every 15 mins they give you an update on where they are. Isn’t that illegal in some way??! Isn’t the point that you want to catch people??!
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….Calls rap/hip hop “Black Music”. I did a post on this before but you can be the judge….
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….At lunch time you say “Mahlzeit” and before you eat a meal with other you say, “Guten Appetit.” Which is basically “Good Appetite” or as we say in the US “Enjoy.” Guten_Appetit

….They do NOT believe in Air conditioning. In fact, most Germans tell me this is what causes sickness, says the people who wear fashionable scarves all year round and even to bed sometimes! It gets hot here, sometimes. And with no air conditioning..its bad. And we all know, the Europeans don’t have a good reputation for being the best smelling….if you get my drift. Being in trains or small enclosed areas in the summer is a serious NO for me. I’m going to start handing out deodorant! Of course this isn’t ALL the Europeans but a good percentage. Mainly men…true story. collegehumor.373c24e9585d97507c0a64a65133c58f

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

I Live In A Place That… (Part Three)

Ok, I thought maybe this would only be a two part thing….and now I’m on part three. And I hate to say it but I have enough for part four!!!! Is that possible?! Sorry! Well, wait, no I’m not sorry! It’s my blog…I do what I want, dammit! To read the others of this little mini series please click the links for Part One or Part Two.

I Live In A Place That…

….. 90% of Taxis and cargo trucks are Mercedes. Aren’t those supposed to be cars that only the wealthy can afford? trucks_.d2VsY29tZXNjcmVlbi5TaW5nbGU~-3581693980-FallbackImage

…..Shoes don’t come in half sizes. For those who know me, my passion in my life was clothes but shoes were always my thing. I couldn’t turn down a cute pair of stilettos. Its sad because I haven’t bought any shoes since I’ve lived here. Ladies, that’s over two years. My 7.5 size is something I’ll never find! But why don’t they have that?!?! Clearly Europeans have exact measurements! What the heck! I mean it can’t be possibe! Can it?! 800px-Defense.gov_News_Photo_020514-A-6418B-043

……Doesn’t offer dessert after dinner. Never have I ever been in a restaurant and dessert is offered or suggested. Unlike in the US where you’re always asked, “Did you save room for dessert?!” by an overly excited waitress. I think this is also a part of the European Diet. Don’t offer what isn’t necessary. Almond vanilla Pudding with white currants

…Sunday is absolutely a day of rest. I’ve been told several times that its not ok that I want to clean on a Sunday. This holy day is strictly for relaxing and doing nothing that even remotely resembles a chore. I haven’t really gotten into the swing of that yet! Guess I’m a sinner!!!day-of-rest-300x269

…..Every day from noon to one is quiet time. No lawn mowers, no machinery of any kind going. It’s lunch time and quiet time. It’s like a law…seriously. Some neighbors would feel inclined to call the police and have them deal with it! Say no to lunch time noise! deidesheim

Thats it for this one! Part four will be coming up shortly!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo