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

 

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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

Off To Italy We Go (Part Two)

After waking up with a gorgeous view of the Italian Alps we headed down for breakfast. We decided we would head into town to do a little shopping.

While there, we went to The Speck Museum which in English means The BACON museum. Very exciting times! As we walked in this jolly old Italian man who spoke VERY little German and absolutely no English, naturally, greeted us and said to me, “Hello Speck!” and I gave him quite the stare down. Did that man just call me fat? Do I smell like bacon?  Then he said I was like the Coco Chanel of Bacon. I guess if I was going to be any kind of bacon, I would want to be the fancy kind 🙂 He laughed and we both understood it was just all for fun.

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So there we are in a stone basement testing homemade smoked and dried bacon. There was bacon on the ceiling…

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Bacon on the walls…..

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It was indeed the Bacon Museum! There was also cheese down there but that’s not important. We did buy some to smuggle in our suitcases. Totally worth being a rascal!

We walked around the streets and did a bit of people watching. The Italians are such wonderful people. Somehow they are just so relaxed and inviting. I can’t really explain it!

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We went to a little cafe around 11:30 and the scene was something I could definitely get used to. A small cafe with outside seating as well as inside. Every table filled with friends sitting and standing, laughing at jokes, and drinking glass after glass of wine. Oh Italians, you have my heart! Here is a peek from inside the cafe from where I was sitting. It just made you feel like you were part of a bigger story…a big family.

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Back at the hotel after a day of shopping we spent the rest of the afternoon in the spa. I tried out one of the “quiet” rooms to see if I could actually sleep like everyone else does. I just hung out and read a book and listened to the spa-like music that was available.

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After hours in the spa and relaxing we got ready for dinner. I apologize in advance for the bad quality pictures. I only brought my phone with me…which is also a no-no in this type of fancy schmancy place but the things I do for my readers…:-)

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As with every night they start our table off with bread and a special cream cheese spread. On this night it was with Rosemary.

Next up we had a “Gruß aus der Küche” / “A Greeting from the Kitchen which was a sesame breaded shrimp on a marmalade of sorts.

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For an appetizer we had fresh made brioche or bread and with two different items made with tuna fish. The first option (on the left) was actual raw tuna that you find often in restaurants. On the right was a creamed tuna fish fluff that was out of this world good!

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Soup was a tomato cream soup with Parmesan foam and a raw ham chip. (Very salty ham chip…lol)

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Moving right along, We received a breaded shrimp ball in asparagus salad. Sooooo delish!

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Time for a little snack to clean up the palette before the main entree, we had a wild berry sorbet with passion fruit.

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The main entree was veal filet with vegetables and layered potato gratin. I actually opted not to have this because I don’t eat baby anything so veal was out of the question. However, I did order my own amazing shrimps dish (not pictured.)

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And lastly, to close the stomach we had fresh strawberries with a Sour Cream ice cream (Not like sour cream, but like pudding just not so sweet), with what they call Eier liquor drizzled. It’s not like anything I can compare it to here in the states. It’s an Egg-like liquor. Not like egg-nog…thats a thousand times tastier. lol 🙂

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That was our lovely evening and we were serenaded by this sweet girl who played the Harp for quite a long time…and really well if I do say so myself! Please excuse the awkward filming but again…was trying not to be too obvious. Here’s a small snippet nonetheless! (And you can hear the Swabian accent from my in-laws while you’re at it.)

More to come later on our trip!!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxo

 

Off To Italy We Go! (Part One)

I finally have a moment to share with you all our Easter trip to Italy this past April with Toblerone’s family. I was just looking through the pictures again and I am have a serious withdrawl. Looks like we need to plan another trip! (Hear that Toblerone…:-))

We left the house so early it was still dark out. I normally hate mornings that start off like that but we were all just SO excited about this trip that I could have left any time of the day and would have been ok with that! 6 hours of driving on the Autobahn and finally up into the Alps and on very curvy roads. It was a beautiful sunny day for traveling and we arrived in the early afternoon to our hotel, Alpen Tesitin…also known as, Heaven.232323232-fp83232-uqcshlukaxroqdfv3-;79-nu=3255-25;-266-WSNRCG=3-;7-7445632-nu0mrj

 

Since there were six of us (Toblerone and I, his parents, his brother and sister-in-law) we took two cars up. One car (ahem…his parents) took the wrong exit so naturally while we waited I plopped myself down in the lobby and allowed myself to be waited on. A fresh glass of Italian red wine would do the trick!

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We also checked out our room. I just love the way that they make up the beds. I mean…how cute is this?! With our little spa robes and slippers. Just perfect! For those that don’t know, this is a typical Alpine Hotel and the room decorations show it. Really quaint and adorable. This hotel is quite modern but they definitely tried to keep the appeal of the Alpine style.

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Every day they place out a “lunch” snack of sorts. They had a large salad bar (much better than in the states), cold salads, hot soups, and of course….CAKES!!!!!

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Complete heaven…is it not?!?!

As we got settled in, we got ourselves situated. The Germans in the sun, per usual, and I wandering around checking out the “grounds.”

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Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore so I headed down to the pool and eventually into the spa. Yes, you know the kind of spa I’m talking about. The NAKED SPA!!!! My favorite!

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This pool connected to the outside pool with a view. I could sit out there forever just staring at the view. WiFi was limited so it really was great to “disconnect” and just be in the moment. I think we definitely needed this to recharge!

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More on the trip later!! I’ve got lots more to share with you all! 🙂

Until next time, Readers!!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

The Insel Mainau: The Flowering Island

Along the beautiful Lake Constance you will find a beautiful little island. Complete with a castle (still owned) and incredibly beautiful gardens that take you to another place. It actually didn’t even feel like Germany. The water around the island is a really crystal blue and with the palm trees and vibrant colored flowers it almost makes you feel like you’re in another world!

Luckily it was a little adventure we got to take with Toblerone’s parents also. The castle is occupied at the moment so it’s not something that is opened to the public for tours with the exception of a small area they set up for a gift shop and a restaurant attached to the orchid greenhouse.

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It was a bit too early in spring for all the flowers but regardless, it was just a beautiful day. It started off with a bit of rain but as we arrived on the island we put our umbrellas down and walked the grounds guided by sunshine.

My absolute FAVORITE part of the entire island is the butterfly house. There are thousands of butterflies in this man-made jungle house. It was just incredible to see so many different types of butterflies happily flying around and a few different vegetarian birds to add to the atmosphere.

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Walking around the grounds we saw these massively large trees called Mammouth trees (also found in the states) which were planted in the late 1800’s and have grown to the giant masses they are today! Channeling my inner hippie I gave those big guys a squeeze.

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We walked around the castle, went inside the church which was decorated in beautiful floral arrangements,  and made our way around to a little farm..where of course I had to pet all the animals. These furry guys are used to all the people I think so they just made their way right over to me and waited for bite to eat!

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We ended the day with a little train watching which I thought was just adorable with all the German homes stacked around. Very cute! There are also great playgrounds  which would make for a fantastic place to bring the kids to run out a bit of energy.

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It was a really beautiful place and thankfully the weather held out for us! It was a perfect start to our vacation. More to come!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

 

 

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

 

2014: A Crazy Good Year In Review

Another year has gone by…flown by I should say. I guess when you have big life events, time just seems to coast right on through. I’m ok with that and more importantly I’m really looking forward to 2015 being a pretty low key year. More time for acclimating! 🙂

Before I give myself fully to 2015 I wanted to give a proper salute to 2014 by reviewing my favorite memories of the year! I’ve shared many great times between two different countries and strangely enough…Toblerone and I are feeling a bit homesick for Germany. It’s been fun going back through my blog and looking at all the pictures and reliving the moments! Can’t wait to go back there for Easter!!

Here’s a look back into my favorite memories of 2014!!!

1. Father-in-law’s 60th Bday Party – nothing like having a party for the half the town to celebrate your bday! 🙂

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2. Fasnet in our town – nothing like crazy costumes, drinking, music, and parades to get you in the spirit!!! We are so sad to be missing it this year!

Toblerone is in the red rooster costume :-)

3. Being in two places at once (First trip to Italy) – The absolute most memorable trip (besides my engagement in Ireland!) thus far. What a fantastic country Italy is… and being on the country line between Austria and Italy, I was able to knock off an item on my bucket list!

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4. Hiking in the Alps – I say it every year that I won’t go but I’m glad I went this last time. It was a view worth the exhaustion!

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5. Wedding in August – Cape Cod, pink wedding dress, lobster bake…whats not to love?!

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6. Going Away party in Germany – Bittersweet, but a great excuse to wear my drindl and party with the family! It was a warm send-off!

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7. Buying our first American home – We were lucky to find it so quickly and seal the deal a week and a half later! BAM!

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8. Thanksgiving with the family – We loved having Toblerone’s mom and my parents with us on our first hosted Thanksgiving in the US. I just hope we can host many many more!

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9. Christmas Market in Chicago – Hands down my FAVORITE city! The Christmas market gave us that little bit of that special German Christmas magic we were missing!

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10. New Years bowling with the parents – Great end to the year! We decided last minute to do a little NYE bowling while my baby sis lay sick in bed with some kind of crud. We were home by 10:30 and relaxed while watching the ball drop. Was really low key and I didn’t have a hangover the next day! WIN!

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2015 has a lot to live up to and I’m hoping it brings a lot of great changes for us! I’ll be taking my Placement test this coming week for school! Can’t believe I’m really going back!!! Of course we still have hopes for a baby just like every year for the past 6 year. Lets see what miracles will happen!

Wishing you all a wonderful start to the new year! Take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful memories that you made and make a plan to make more this year! Travel, meet up with old friends, make goals, make bucket lists, take a cooking class, join a choir! Do something outside of your box. I think you’ll find a great memory just waiting to be made!

Until next time, Readers!!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo