A Big Time Out – But I’m Back

So it’s 4am here in Michigan and I decided to write a bit as I sit here in the dark on the couch. Time got away from me since I last wrote. I announced to the world we are having twins and then life just started to fly by!

I am now 33 weeks along and I look gigantic. Now it’s just a matter of trying to keep these little babies in!

In August we took a baby moon to Cape Cod and it was MUCH needed. You all know how much we love that place and I couldn’t imagine not going. It was a rough flight though. I was only about 13 weeks or so at that point but I was SO uncomfortable and the nausea…oh man. That was rough.

There is really something to be said about the healing powers of the ocean. I’m no hippy but for the first time since I found out I was pregnant, I could EAT. I even dabbled in a lobster roll 🙂 My parents were able to join us as well for the weekend which was so nice! Who knows when we will be able to do that again!

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As soon as we got back to Michigan, I was sick again. I wish I could have bottled up the ocean and brought it home with me. I’m not sure we will make it next year with the two babies so that will be hard on the heart. It will be our first time not going in over 7 years.

We went to Germany in September as a last hoorah you could say! Unfortunately, Toblerone had to work the majority of the time and I was left to my own devices. The things we planned (soccer game, Oktoberfest, etc.) were quickly shot down because of my growing belly and the risk of being around rowdy drunk people. So, we did a lot of visiting with family and catching up.

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The plane ride…oh man. Let me just tell you something. I do NOT recommend that. I was 16 weeks when we left and I was just about 18 weeks on the way back. A 9 hour flight stuck in the same position really does a number on the body. For two days it felt like my stomach was in a vice grip. Ouch. I will NEVER fly pregnant again. That crap is for the birds! However, I did it all for the Schnitzel and cake! I ate like a champ there. I definitely have two little Germans growing. All they wanted was the typical southern German fare: Fleischsalat, Schnitzel, Spaetzle, and gravy.

 

We had a great time catching up with all the family! I spent lots of time taking walks and going to lunch at Toblerone’s Omi’s house which was nice to catch up with everyone and keep my German going!

We were there during a holliday “Erntedank” that they celebrate here. It literally means “Thanksgiving” or “Thanks for the Harvest.” They are thankful for all that the world gives them. This first picture of the world and biblical friends was made from flower petals that were turned into powder and then this was “painted” somehow. Really incredible stuff. Plus they showcase vegetables and fruit that they are thankful for. It really was amazing to see in person.

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On top of all the fun, we revealed the Genders to Omi and Opi by having them open two gifts and….well…:-) Guess we gotta stock up on Lederhosen!

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Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

Off To Italy We Go (Part Three)

The last and final installment of our vacation in Italy is FINALLY hot off the presses. Just a quick little update…I was taking a few classes during the summer and it took over my life! Hence why I haven’t said much since June! My apologies! I’m back at it though and have lined up quite a few fun posts!

Ok…on with it!

Our trip ended with a beautiful Easter Sunday Hike followed by a wonderful dinner of course. Luckily, the Easter bunny found me in Italy. I did send him a note to let him know so I’m glad he got that in time.

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But FIRST…the morning church bells that remind me of all things Europe. When we first moved to Germany, I used to be so annoyed by the early morning bell show that took place right outside my window (were were a road away from the church). But now, somehow, it brings me back really great memories of always knowing what time it was!

 

This was the front of our hotel. For some reason I just feel like decorations in Europe are really different. Granted, a majority of the products are with wood and felt but I just thought these big things outside the hotel were so cool! What weird shapes!

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Off we went on our hike (two VERY hungover people in tow…and no it wasn’t me!). I literally pushed Toblerone up the hill. Talk about a workout! But it was fun. We were walking towards a little restaurant that was a few miles up the mountain. And when I say up..I mean up.

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The views were beautiful and the little bits of snow on the ground reminded us quickly how high up we actually were.

We made it to the restaurant and I met a few friends, furry ones of course! Apparently goats love peanuts. Did you know that?

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On our way back down the mountain towards our hotel after a few drinks we stopped for some more drinking of course and snacks. My father-in-law is always providing the drinks for us. Only the best wine there is! (Note: The two most hungover people with no wine in their hands….:-) Brothers…)

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Back at the hotel we got ready for dinner. I put on my Easter dress and headed down to the dining room.

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Dinner was an array of amazing things. They had plate upon plate of meats, cheese, fruits, salad bar, etc. We also got a lamb or fish dinner and dessert but the main idea was a buffet! I do love me a good buffet!

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The weekend ended with a few drinks at the bar. My favorite? Amaretto liqueur with apple cider. The BEST. Try it sometime, you’ll thank me! Looking forward to going back to this hotel one day. We had such a great time!

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Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxo

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

 

Time To Say Goodbye…

Our journey in Germany ended on several high notes. One of them being the “Going Away” party Toblerone’s parents organized for us. Through all the stress of packing we managed to just take a moment to put all of that behind us and enjoy one last party with the people in our lives there.

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We were able to have the party at the Sportheim in Toblerone’s home town which was a great tribute to him and his many years of playing soccer for this town. In addition to us moving back to the states and starting this new chapter, Toblerone had decided to officially hang up his soccer cleats to end his semi-professional soccer career. It was all just bittersweet!

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We had about 60 family and friends that came to bid us farewell and we had a blast seeing everyone together. Toblerone’s cousin auctioned off items of ours that we no longer could use in the US (electric items) and so that was hilarious to see who bought our christmas lights or our blender, etc. Most importantly, I’m glad a piece of us is in the homes of those we care about.

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It was a perfect send off with wurstsalat and kasesalat…and I may or may not have had too much to drink. 🙂 10277801_10154668873630593_2664036994396427145_n

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

 

Take Me Home, Country Roads

It’s almost time…that time to make the HUGE trip back to the states! So much has been happening and to be honest the blog has suffered. It’s been sitting on the back burner for quite some time now. I’ve completely been enveloped in stress. I’m planning the wedding (which is exactly 27 days away now…OMG!), still working full time, trying to organize what gets packed or trashed in the house…the list goes on! But I won’t bore you with the details!

Slowly I am really starting to get excited about whats to come! As soon as the wedding is done, we will fly back to Deutschland for 3-4 weeks to pack up our house and then ship out at the end of September! There is no time left to do anything! But Toblerone and I share constantly what we are looking forward to. Granted, my wants are very different from his. He wants the total American dream. The house on the water, a boat, fishing license (thats hard to get here in Germany), a big Mercedes, etc.

My wants are something a bit more sentimental. The things I lacked here are the things I am in dire need of. I never realized I wanted these things so badly in my life until I didn’t have them. Thats always how that goes though…isn’t it?

Here is my list of MUST-HAVES as soon as I put my feet on American soil!

1. Library card – A library with ENGLISH books in them. omg…and the smell of libraries. Give me it all! They have libraries here in Germany but I didn’t have any close by that actually looked like a library and/or had English books in them.

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2. Flat walls to paint – I’ve talked about this a little bit but this “stucco” idea that they have for the walls (inside and out) is ANNOYING to say the least. It takes AGES to paint walls and I am just beyond excited to paint our new house without having to go over the same spot 800 times. You don’t know how I’ve suffered…..

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3. Compassionate doctors – I won’t get into this too much but when my GYN tells me he doesn’t understand why we aren’t pregnant because he never had a problem. How he would just look at his wife and she was pregnant. Yeah…this is just a small taste of what doctors are like here. FULL of compassion and sympathy…am I right?!??!?!

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4. Craft stores – Oh dear heaven! I don’t care how many people boycott Hobby Lobby. I will buy out that store!! I miss those stores terribly. The VERY TINY “hobby” stores here are literally the size of my kitchen and have mostly felt. Germans really love getting down and crafty with felt. Which I personally feel should only be used in Kindergarten. But I digress…. Pinterest has turned me into a pretty craft person and thats all I want to do now..make my own stuff!

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5. To watch Ellen DeGeneres –  When I was really homesick I would watch small snippets of the Ellen show. For some reason I could just get lost in this and not feel sadness anymore. It’s weird, I get that. But you wouldn’t understand unless you were in my shoes! BRING ON THE ELLEN!!!!

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6. Plethora of food options and fad diets to try – Stores here are very standard. The foods in every grocery store are mostly the same. Same brands, etc. I used to think the Germans lived in a sort of Utopia. Everything the same. When I go home we have Wegmans (if you don’t know what that is, your life is not complete until you step inside one of those!) and there is also Whole Foods and a bunch of other ones too but each one is different to me. Each one offers something another one doesn’t. I can’t wait to just spend a day walking around and getting familiar with cereals again. Lucky Charms…oh how I’ve missed you!!  Plus all these new fad diets people get into. That’s always fun to try out and then quit after a couple days. Thats my style 🙂

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What do you think? Is my list totally awkward and weird? I hope it is! Because these are the things I just NEED in my life.

America here I come!!!!!!! AND THE HOME OF THE BRAAAAAAAVVVVVVE!!!!

Until next time, Readers!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo