Friends make the world a better place

We have met many people at the children’s school here in Germany.  Most of the  friends We have made are ExPats. There is a special bond amongst ExPats because you are going through the same trials and tribulations. Many are what I would call professional ExPats. Meaning they move to a new country every 2-3 years! I cannot even imagine! Maybe it’s because we did this later in our lives and Kendall is a little older.  The thought of having to pack and move all of your things and reintegrate into a new country, learn their laws, learn their cultures, hope to make new friends, and so on and so on! Daunting!!! BUT also exciting and it sounds so worldly! Truly when you do this with your family, home is where the heart is, because some of these families have moved so much that it would be hard to say that a certain place is home. For us home was always New York.  It took a long time for North Carolina to feel like home.  Fortunately we made friends that became family.  We even have family in NC so it did become home! Since moving to Germany, we have made wonderful friends, we would not be as happy here without them! So the next phase of this ExPat life means saying good bye to some as they go on to their new countries. We hope to stay in touch and are so happy we were fortunate to bond with these wonderful people! I think ExPat life is living in a constant rotation of change.  Friends really do make the world a better place and now we will have friends from all over the world!

Thanks for reading
xoxo

Ps… I didn’t have pics of everyone but you are all in my heart ❤️ xoxo

 

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“Faith is where you close your eyes and open your heart, moving beyond the familiar and embracing the unknown…”

Who am I?
A friend had said in her podcast: “If outside validation is your only source of nourishment, you will hunger for the rest of your life”.  It struck a chord with me and may be something I am currently struggling with.

 I guess the question is what defines you or rather what defines me?

Are you defined by your job, by how you present yourself at work, by how you treat others, by how others view you at work, accomplishments that are work related, is your opinion valued by colleagues, do you view your growth as only work related, do you allow the judgements of others around you like your peers and bosses affect how you feel about yourself, is what is driving you the need to work hard, be kind, take all classes offered and make a good enough impression to move up within your career.  Outside of work what do you talk about? How’s work, a common question.  I have worked since I was a teen.  I always tried my hardest, I tried to be kind to everyone, I tried to learn as much as I could about my job and I cared about the people I worked with and who worked for me.  I am not sure if they even knew how much time I spent thinking about them, worrying about their paths and futures as well as my own.  I always would say I was a mom first… but I am not sure that was true, maybe it was the right thing to say.  I’m not sure now as I try to redefine myself for a few of the ExPat follower years. What happens when you are no longer that person, Employee, Manager, Colleague?  What am I now? Who are my peers now? How do I keep the friends that I had as my old self now? Do I still matter to them? Is this why friendships evolve and change overtime and sometimes you lose touch because there is no common ground? I don’t want to lose those people because they all mean something to me. What should matter to me now? Can you go back after a time away? What should conversations be about, my conversations were always about work and of course about how great the kids were doing.  I just lost at least 50% of my conversation topics! Does that make me boring? Was I already boring if 50% of my conversation was about work!? UGH…

So many questions, I know.  I do not know the answers and I guess writing it all down is my way to try to organize my thoughts.  In life how many times do we redefine ourselves? Student to worker, working wife, working mom, not working mom, back to working mom, retiree.  Each has a set of issues. Maybe it’s harder to adjust as we get older, because all of the other transitions were fairly smooth I think. Maybe you forget the struggle once you get on your path. I know when I had Kendall it was so hard to leave her at daycare, I was so lucky that daycare was at my place of employment, so I was able to go check on her throughout the day, definitely made it easier.  When we moved to NC the transition was smooth because I was able to continue working for my company in NY from home. Kendall was in daycare but I was close by.  I had Duncan while still working for that job and he also went to the daycare with Kendall.  Once I had to start working outside of the home I think I was ready to talk to some adults during the day so once again the transition went well.  Maybe this is the biggest transition because I left the country? So I don’t have the support group of my friends and family on the same time zone? However everyone has been great about reaching out on WhatsApp and Facebook.  

I am not sure that the problem I am having has anything to do with everyone else but rather from finding fulfillment and value in myself without “outside validation”.  I am loving being a wife and a mom.  This summer has been amazing, doing activities with the kids daily (forced family fun!). I am so thankful to have this opportunity.  Trying to keep their faces out of their computers and doing artwork and bike riding and learning German and discovering new things to do.  So then why do I struggle?   

I am sure this journey will continue to have surprises and I will rediscover more about myself as I go.  

“Faith is where you close your eyes and open your heart, moving beyond the familiar and embracing the unknown…”

 Thank you as always for reading and sorry for the rant!
xoxo

 

 

Weekend Fun in Hamburg

We started our weekend at a local Biergarten. Playgrounds and restaurants all set up to enjoy the outdoors! Really cool and there are many located all throughout Hannover.

Then we took a train to  Hamburg Saturday morning! It was a really cool city! We went to the pier. Walked through the fully operational Soviet U-434 submarine! Claustrophobia almost won, but we made it through! We then walked along the water to go lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Always a fun place to visit in any city across the world.  After lunch we jumped on a Hop on Hop Off tour bus to learn of the history in Hamburg and to get us to our next must see of St Michaels Church!  We were able to listen to the tour in English with our earbuds.  Once we arrived at St Michaels Church (Baroque style) we hopped off and went inside. It is Hamburg’s largest church and you can see amazing views of Hamburg from the bell tower! We were also able to tour the crypt and of course the beautiful altar.  It was so impressive and stunning.   My pictures cannot possibly do it justice, but churches always amaze me and the detailed statues and decorations and what they represent are so fascinating .  After our tour of the church we went back onto our tour bus and continued back towards our train to take us to the Mercure hotel for check in.  Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and has a hard history consisting of the Great Fire of Hamburg, The North Sea Flood and World War II bombing raids.  The city has remained a wealthy city despite it all. The tour bus was really great and I would recommend it to anyone that wants the history of Hamburg with all of the points of interest pointed out.  They offer these Hop on Hop off buses in many cities and I think they are an efficient way to see all you want to see! Our walk from the train station to the hotel was along a canal that had really cool houseboats on it.  The kids thought those were amazing!  We ate dinner at the hotel that night.  Sunday we went to the Miniatur Wunderland!  SO cool, it is a model railway and brings you through a miniature world of wonders with such detail.  It is the largest of it’s kind in the world.  The kids were fascinated. It has little funny details that if you look closely for you can find, like E.T. flying, the Ghostbusters, Ewok’s forest with Chewbacca and gang, Jesus walking on water!  The displays are interactive with buttons to push that will create additional movements to what is already going on.  There is an airport complete with planes taking off!  We were there for over three hours and probably could have stayed longer.  It was so much fun to look into the windows of the buildings or in the parks and on the roads looking for all the little details! Some are even a little shocking!  Unfortunately we had to catch our train home at 3pm, so we needed to head back to the main station.  Duncan had a few other things he would of liked to tour, including the Hamburg Dungeon and the Museum of Illusion and I had really wanted to see St. Nicholas’ Church (Gothic Style Lutheran Church bombed during WWII and the remaining structure is a memorial).  Maybe on another visit. I feel we squeezed as much as we could into our 2 days of fun!!! It was exciting to start exploring outside of Hannover and we really look forward to making the most of our time here in Germany!

Thank you for reading!
xxxooo

Biergarten

Train ride to Hamburg

Found a playground to play at on our walk through the city!

Very behind with my blogging-quick summary…

(Side note: I started the beginning of this during our plane ride-April 16- to the US for spring break)

Thank you everyone who made Duncan’s first birthday in Germany wonderful. The people we have met here have made our transition a smooth and happy one. We are very lucky!

Now we are on our way to the US to see some family and friends. I am sitting on the plane and noticing the different nationalities on it. Because the children are going to an international school we have been meeting people from all over the world on a daily basis, learning new cultures, trying new foods, hearing new beliefs! I wonder if the children even realize how this is changing their world view and making the world a smaller place! We are so happy we are getting this experience and I cannot believe we are in the midst of living in another country! How amazing is that!? We are in a place surrounded by history spanning back hundreds of years. Our hearts were saddened last night because of the fire at Notre Dame. I had hoped to see it now that we are so close. To lose so much beauty and history is devastating.

In the meantime see you soon NC…

Okay picking up from where I left off.  Before we knew of our move to Germany we had planned a vacation with friends from NY and one of my brothers  and his family from PR at the OBX in North Carolina.  Since the kids had two weeks off for spring break, we spent some time the week before OBX in Concord. We were able to see my Dad and Yamel and lots of friends. It was a wonderful trip and of course was really hard to leave them AGAIN!… Perhaps too close to the time when we actually left, the wound was still fresh! We had a birthday party for Duncan while we were there at a local park so we were able to see so many people. Unfortunately the weather from Germany followed us there and it was a cold and drizzly day! We powered through and made the best of it and we truly appreciate everyone coming to see us, we have some great friends!

After our time there we drove out to the OBX (OuterBanks). John surprised me and rented a Jeep which was so much fun! The house we were in on the ocean was HUGE, we had a ton of families there and I think we may have been out numbered by the kids! The weather was great and we saw dolphins daily, sting rays flipping out of the water, a whale, and a shark all from the beach! So amazing. We also went to Corolla where we could drive out on the beach in the Jeep. We paid tribute to my mom there. She would have loved it, her two favorite things in the world, Wild Horses and the Beach. It was truly beautiful.  While we were in the OBX we also were able to see Avengers End Game in English! Really awesome! Movies can also be seen in Germany in English, if it is sure to be a Blockbuster they are usually shown here in OV (Original Version) We saw Captain Marvel in Hannover. John and Duncan saw Pokémon and Aladdin in Hannover. So once that OV thing was brought to our attention it was game on since we are crazy movie goers! It was so much fun to disconnect and just relax at the beach. Then was the long drive back to Charlotte and the long flight home. Everyone was sad and exhausted.  It took us a long time to readjust to being back in Germany.

The same week we returned from Germany, Kendall left for Verona Italy for a Football (Soccer) tournament.  They did great and had an awesome time. That was hard for me to have her traveling so far away without me there.  She did great and I survived!

Other things that have happened the International School had student led conferences for Duncan’s grade and I was with him and his friend Alena for them. They were so proud of their work and so excited to show it off. They both started school on the same day and are doing amazing. Kendall had a floorball tournament in Berlin and I was able to accompany her on that trip.  She had a good time. I am now on the PTA, I have that to look forward to in the next school year. John got a bicycle and will soon be riding to work. The International School had a Festival with food tents from all over the world run by parents from the different locations, slides, bounce houses, a dunk tank and a lot of other activities, really amazing. Father’s Day in Germany was last Thursday. The tradition is for the dads to load carts with drinks/beer and hang out in the local parks with other dads and enjoy their day like that. We will still celebrate the US way of spending time together as a family.  We have spent a lot of time with our friends here and again I think we are so lucky that we always wind up with such great people in our lives. I think that covers a lot of what has gone on in the last few months in as few words as possible.

I will be sharing a lot of pictures on this post as there has been a lot of things we have done. I will promise to try to keep up with posting more.

One other thing I wanted to say. Some dear friends of ours lost a close friend recently to an aneurism on June 1st. We had the pleasure of his friendship many years ago through them.  He was only 46 years old and left behind his wife and two really young children as well as a lot of family and friends.  I just read the tribute written to him in his obituary and it was really beautiful.  It is always heartbreaking when someone leaves this world and it seems harder when they seem way too young to go.  We take for granted that tomorrow is a given.  Live for today, be kind, make memories, hug those you love…

Thank you for reading
xoxo

 

 

 

 

Good times!

Hello, once again it’s been a while. I feel like I have nothing to share and then all of a sudden I have too much to share.  I have had a nice couple of weeks. I went to the Herrenhausen Gardens with Catherine.  We only saw part of the gardens since they are so large and we had to squeeze it in between school pick ups! It was a beautiful and peaceful day and we had a fun lunch after!

With the help of friends, thank you Mirja and Megan and Axel, we also now officially have an outdoor table and chairs and a grill! Ready to enjoy the beautiful spring weather viewing the lake.  I have made my family eat outside almost every night just because I am so excited… even when it may still be a little chilly! Thanks Michele for the Comfies that are keeping the kids warm 😉 !  Also Duncan has been helping out, building the grill and mowing the lawn!

John was in Regensburg for a few days last week and was able to do some fun sight seeing.

We received this awesome gift this week from our realtor and friend Kenner and his family! We are holding you to that visit guys! This gift made me cry…
img_2770-1

Kendall has gone away for the entire week with her 7th grade class! She is camping (in cabins) and enjoying a whole bunch of outdoor activities! We miss her and cannot wait to hear about her adventure!

I have also enjoyed a wonderful birthday here in Germany.  How hard it would be without the people we have been fortunate enough to meet! My Day started with some gifts from Duncan and Kendall and John and then a really awesome dinner at OutbaXSpirit Australian Bar & Restaurant! The atmosphere was awesome, the food was awesome and the company was amazing! Thank you John and Paul and Catherine for setting it up! and thank you everyone for coming, Chris, Marianne, Heidi, Megan and the littles, Henry, Jack, James, Lewis, Christian, Duncan, Alena, & Max! They even had a boa that I was able to hold!!! How exciting! I also received lovely gifts and yummy cupcakes! It definitely made Germany feel more like home to have special people to celebrate with. xo

 

So it’s been a great two weeks and our next celebration will be Duncan’s 10th birthday. He is having some friends over to celebrate on Sunday and we will be doing some painting!

Currently working on homework! 🙂

Thank you for reading! I hope everyone else is having an awesome April! xoxoxo

 

Things not to say

I am the wife of an ExPat and the mommy of two beautiful children, I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend. I have feelings and value and worth. As someone who has worked very hard for many many years and put extreme effort and value in the work she did… as well as balancing family and making sure my babies and husband knew how much I loved them and cared for them. Making sure we spent time with friends and family and fostered lasting relationships and making sure everyone knows how much I care for them. It was hard, exhausting, and extremely rewarding. I take pride in a job well done and I tried really hard to make sure that is how I was received by my colleagues and family.

So now who am I? I didn’t realize how much of what I thought of me was what I did at the office. How is that when I know the most important thing to me is my family?

Do not say, how is the long vacation? It is not a vacation. It is hard to move to another country that does not speak the same language as you. Every day you are surrounded by conversations that you cannot understand. Going to the bank, food shopping, clothes shopping (even figuring out sizes), utilities, sending a package, finding a Birthday card, finding freaking breadcrumbs (yes currently an issue for me), understanding the mail you get (all in German), understanding the kids new school methods and watching them struggle, worrying about the tree in the backyard falling on the house, (who would I call?), call 911 nope different numbers, getting our residency sorted out, feeling sick and not having my doctors, no urgent care here! Missing your family and friends and all you hold dear. Aside from the fact being a full time mom/dad is not a vacation! It is the most rewarding role ever but not a vacation.

Sorry this may have been a bit of a rant. It’s been less then 3 months that we have been here but it feels like much longer. Oh and more questions, no I do not have a job yet ( until my residency is sorted out this is impossible) but I may just keep my current one as a mom to two amazing humans full time. Another question, no I do not speak German yet. I am trying to learn from the kids and the people around me but geez it’s only been 3 months.

Now my rant is done. The other side of this, it’s exactly the adventure I thought this would be so far. My children love having me at home to help with school, eat dinner at a normal time, go on field trips and to games. We are meeting people from all over the world and learning new terminologies and cultures. We have met many kind and sweet hearted people. We have all made new wonderful friends. I love my home and I am so happy that we have this opportunity. Maybe this should not be things not to say, maybe it is finding myself, the “HausFrau”! 😊

Thank you for reading.

xoxo