Berlin was freezing, but beautiful. The city was really cool to walk around and would be so beautiful in the summer! I was surprised by all the parks and wide sidewalks. There wasn't even much traffic.
Getting back into the routine of having a dog, but also having a dog here in Germany in our townehome without grass anywhere nearby, has been an adjustment. It'll be so nice when they get our backyard done (ugh!) so I can just let him out during the day.
Its funny, when we moved here I noticed that while out walking people weren't friendly. I would smile or nod or say hello to people and they would just put their heads down and march past. I figured it was just a German thing and didn't take offense to it. They probably think I'm a little weird or maybe a little special because I'm always smiling at them.
Ever since I started walking with General though I've noticed a complete change. People will smile, nod, or say hello TO ME! Sometimes from all the way on the other side of the street! If they don't do that they at least stare lovingly at General as they pass. This is definitely a dog-friendly country!
I'm also starting to receive some of the boxes of baby stuff I shipped back to myself from the States. Right now its all draped around and on her crib because its the only piece of nursery furniture in the room. I hope to convince Jason to make an Ikea run soon though to pick up a dresser. Then it'll just be a search for a rocker!
They frames kind of look like a dirty brown here, but they're actually gilded gold. They're kind of cool, I think. I wanted them to be bigger - like 11x14 with a 2" matte, but I messed up when I was ordering them and must have read it wrong. They're going to stay as is for now though because the next size up is more expensive than I can deal with. Where's a Home Goods when you need one?
Here are some of the detail shots from my shower thrown by Angie & Annie. They did such a great job. The headbands all turned out so cute and the food was delicious!
While I was home I was lucky enough to get 3 baby showers thrown for us. The first was a surprise shower hosted by my Aunt, Mom, & Gramme in Florida. The second was hosted by my cousins Molly, Emily & Marlee from my Dad's side of the family. The third was hosted by Jason's Mom, Angie, and Sister, Anastasia. All were very unique and special. Below are some pics from the Florida Shower and the Cousin shower. I haven't uploaded the ones from Jason's family's shower from my camera yet, so I'll post those later.
Ohio Shower by Molly, Emily & Marlee
Today is the culmination of a long couple months of planning and preparation to ship my black lab, General, from Ohio to Germany. He has been staying with my Mother-in-law, Angie, while Jason and I first moved overseas and while we got settled in, found a house, and just figured out what's what.
The process of shipping a pet internationally, especially a large one that can't fit underneath the seat in front of you, is very tedious. It involves many visits to the vet, paperwork, flight reservations, more money than I care to mention, all sorts of regulations - from import, to export, to airline, to veterinary, a visit to the USDA, and some very OCD preparations of a kennel.
This morning Angie, and I woke up before 5am and started our 2+ hour trip from Columbus to Cleveland in order to get General to the airport 3 hours prior to his 11am flight (as required by the airline). He had to fly out of Cleveland vs. Columbus because the size of the planes that leave Columbus. Larger jets, that can therefore accommodate larger cargo leave from Cleveland.
After all the effort listed above and countless checking and double checking that everything was correct and accounted for, we arrive to United Cargo on time and are greeted by nothing but issues. As the cargo men loaded General and his kennel onto the scale, they cracked the kennel and proceeded to tell me that it was like that when I arrived. The crack, although it didn't affect the structural integrity or the security of the kennel, was too severe for them to allow us through.
It constantly amazes me how quick people are to tell you no or to greet you with issues vs. cooperation. Angie said it best this morning when she said "Its frustrating to me that they are treating this like you woke up this morning with this crazy idea to ship your dog to Germany!".
We then went through a litany of issues: First they had us try a kennel they had on hand that was one size bigger. We spent 30 minutes transferring all the stickers, markings, paperwork, etc. onto this new kennel - only to be told that the plane we booked can't accommodate that size kennel after all. Then we were told we had to go find a pet store and buy a new kennel and that he'd have to fly out on a later flight. Next they started to question whether or not I had the right paperwork with me (I about lost my cool at this point because I KNEW that I did). Then it changed to Oh... Opps.. we actually have the exact same kennel that you brought in available here for you to buy after all - sorry we just wasted 2.5 hours of your time and now have 30 minutes to rush and get him ready for the flight...
In the end it was an overall stressful experience that I don't wish on anyone. I pulled out all the stops too, like a good military wife should. I took off my coat to show my pregnant belly, I teared up, and started playing the military dependent card.
I'm happy to say that General has landed in Newark and is hopefully being well taken care of by their on-site vet before his flight to Frankfurt this evening. My level of anxiety is slowly returning to normal. Poor baby (real baby, not dog baby), I worry about the affect of stress on the pregnancy!
I know I kind of mentioned this in my last post too, but as we drove back to Columbus, I was reflecting on this experience, and just thinking about life as a military spouse. There are such highs and lows that are so hard to put into words! Days like today I find myself thinking "Normal people don't have to deal with this kind of crap!", but then there are such highs as well, such as all the opportunities the military has opened up for us - from Jason going to grad school, the many benefits of having Tricare, the sights and places we've been able to see, etc. Its a very unique path that we're on.
Fingers crossed General's flight plans continue to go well, there are no issues when Jason receives him in Frankfurt, and that the poor guy's mental state stays as happy-go-lucky as he usually is.
A friend of mine shared this article with me this week, and I thought it was worth passing on. Its hard to convey a sense of this odd life we live as expats to those whom have never lived it. I have had similar moments as the author describes, since beginning to travel with Jason. Moments where something happens to make you think - Where exactly am I and how did I get here!? or She looks normal, how can I reasonably stalk her and ask her to be my friend? Those, among countless other situations, are sometimes beyond description to friends and family back home, which can leave you feeling very lonely.
Thriving in this unique situation, I believe, very much depends on how successful you are at meeting friends and creating a support system - often with people you may have never been friends with if the situation was different. Every move is a challenge, because you essentially have to start over. Its a unique path to walk, but I'm thankful for all that it has taught me.
I am constantly surprised by all the stuff you accumulate/need when preparing for a baby! Its amazing really. Among last week's internet item searches was a mobile.
When looking online, I couldn't find anything that quite fit what I was looking for. The affordable ones were too cutesy and the cooler ones cost way too much because they're handmade. So I decided to make my own.
My mom and grandmother are both very creative and so I thought while I was visiting them, we could combine our powers and make something pretty cool.
I love the way they turned out, but they took a lot of work, so I can understand why they're so expensive. The effort was well worth it though because now we have a one-of-a-kind mobile that was made by three generations.
With the addition of the crib, I feel like the baby's room has taken leaps and bounds! It will be a fairly neutral nursery since I've decided that painting anything in this house is just too much considering we're only here for 2-2.5 more years and there's just SO much to paint. So the nursery will be white with accents of color.
I posted some nursery inspiration images below that I've been looking at and also some items I've decided to purchase. The room will slowly come together over the next couple months.
My hope is to just have some fun colored accents. I've purchased plum colored drapes and the bedding I've registered for is a lavender color. The rug is from Ikea and just kind of goes with everything. I'm hoping to find a fun colored dresser or maybe even painting one.
I've picked out the three prints below from The Animal Print Shop and hope to order them this month. I'll hang them over her bed.
I'm also loving the book ledge idea. I've registered for a couple from Pottery Barn Kids.
My mom and I are going to try to make our mobile based on the image below. I'm excited for our little craft project. I think I like the below felt colors from Crafty on Etsy.
More to come!
I've waited to post this anywhere, and have still yet to post anything on Facebook myself, but wanted to finally say that Jason and I will be adding a new addition to our family this Spring. Our little girl is due at the end of April and we couldn't be more excited to meet her!
With the recent kicks I've felt, my growing belly, some initial purchases, and some of the super sweet gifts we've received - its starting to feel more and more real! We built and put together her crib last week and I keep walking by the room and just staring at it. Its not a fancy crib, but I like just the sight of it.
We have two names in mind and have pretty much decided on one, but have decided to keep it a secret until we can meet her ourselves.
There won't be any belly photos on here (sorry!) but I thought I'd share some photos (they're mostly iphone shots because they've all been on the fly!) of some of the gifts we've received and things we've bought so far. While I'm back in the US I'm having two baby showers, one hosted by my best friends and cousins and the other hosted by Jason's mom & sister. I can't wait to see everyone and celebrate.
Please keep us in your thoughts in the next couple months that everything keeps going smoothly. We have no reason to think otherwise, so far everything with the baby has been healthy, but you just never know.
I'm really looking forward to our new life in 2014!
Also, to my sweet friends - this by no means is all that we've received so far. We're so lucky to have such good friends that have thought to send us stuff. I just didn't think to take photos of everything!
We had a good New Year's Eve with friends here in Wiesbaden this year. We sat on a hilltop that overlooked the city and was able to see the crazy amount of fireworks that were being set off throughout the city. I took a quick video below and it doesn't even do the amount of fireworks justice, but you can at least get a sense. Thousands of people were setting them off. It was a great view!
I head back to the States tomorrow for almost 3 weeks with family & friends. I'm sad to leave Jason here and will be anxious to get back to him, but am excited for some time in the US! Wish me luck with my flights!
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