Monthly Archives: December 2013

Oh 2013, You Hurt So Good

Every New Year’s Eve, I find myself thinking, wow, I can’t believe another year has come and gone. I used to believe in New Year’s Resolutions when I was a kid, but as I got older, I felt they were too predictable and only set you up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

Although it’s the end of 2013, I have been reflecting not just about this past year, but about the past couple of years. Every one has brought huge life changes. Take a little look for yourself….


My love finally has his visa and comes “home” to the US. We are finally together after a year apart.

We get married that next week and spend a couple of nights in this isolated, romantic cabin.

Several weeks later, we found out what happens when you spend a couple of nights alone in an isolated, romantic cabin.


9 months later, I had one more handsome boy in my home to love.


One year later, that handsome boy turned 1.

For almost the whole month of May, we were in Las Vegas where we said goodbye to family, friends and the US.

For almost the whole month of May, we were in Las Vegas where we said goodbye to family, friends and the US.

On May 22, 2013, we made this our new home, here in Germany.

In case you forgot what we did to get here, you can read about our huge leap of faith here.

2013 has been full of huge ups, huge downs and everything in between. We started our life completely over, from scratch. We had almost nothing when we got here except for one another and M’s family. Starting your life over requires a lot of work and sacrifice. We both know it will be worth it in the end and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing husband.

These past years have given us so much. We have received amazing blessings with almost mind-blowing life changes. For 2014, I am even more hopeful. I am optimistic of what this next year has in store for this little family of mine. But….if I could ask for one thing, one wish it would be this….calm.

Dear 2014, please bring this family the sense of calm and peace that goes hand in hand with growth and stability. We are ready to be settled. We are hopeful to continue simply moving forward. 


Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Frohes neues Jahr!

I’ve Never Liked Roller Coasters

I didn’t know it would happen, but moving to Germany the first time back in 2008 changed me. It changed me in a way I suppose I can never get back. I’m not sure I want to, but I know this new person has always felt a constant longing ever since. There is always a piece of my heart missing and I suppose there always will be.


I moved back to the states in 2010. When M joined me in 2011, I truly thought we would be there for several years. However, we hated it which was completely unexpected. Sure, we moved to the Midwest, which looking back I know was a mistake. I’m a West Coast girl and I longed for that kind of lifestyle. We did our best to make it work, but as you know the pieces of the puzzle just never fit.

We moved back to Germany.

And now, I still long for the West Coast. I miss my friends. I miss my family. We both love Las Vegas and we have the kind of friendships there that sometimes feels like only come around once in a lifetime.

But, I love Germany and the type of life my family and I can have here. There is so much security to be offered in a socialized government system. Life is more simple. Life is less stressful. Traditions are honored and maintained, such as Christmas. To experience Christmas here is like walking through a magic wonderland!

the-roller-coaster-largeAnd so, the roller coaster of life goes on. You expect ups and downs in life. That’s the nature of the beast. But for those of us who have two homes in two separate countries, our hearts are always divided. If we chose to live in Las Vegas, we would miss the best parts of Germany. By choosing to live here, we miss the best parts of Las Vegas. It feels like a no-win situation.

But in the end, you make a choice; the choice that you think is the best for your future and your family. It’s not necessarily the one that’s best for your heart.

For all of our family and friends back home, we chose this, but know it wasn’t easy. We miss you being a part of our lives. We think of you always. We love you all .

Good Tidings Today

So many things to share, so I will admit that this post is a bit of a ramble, but here goes.

1. Christmas Spirit

a merry little christmasBack in November, La Maman Heureuse wrote about the spirit of giving and offered her readers a gift to thank them for following along. She asked that you leave a comment with a sweet Christmas memory and a winner would be chosen based on the comments received.  Well, I for one, first had to tell her how sweet it was that she was doing something so generous. No giveaway entries, no follow requests, just simple giving. I thought it was the prime example of Christmas Spirit. I left a comment saying something like that and also sharing how special is to me because it is both the time I met my husband AND when he proposed. I recently wrote a guest post for Polly about when we met and now I have written one for La Maman Heurese about my husband’s marriage proposal. Christmas is such a special time for me so if you aren’t sick of all the love and mush, definitely go check them out!

And look at this adorable Christmas package she sent me from Belgium! Isn’t she sweet? Make sure you stop by and spread some Christmas cheer her way!

Wrapped so cute and festive!

SO many cute presents inside!

She even included these cute cookie cutters in “boy style” for my little guy.

And these ornaments are so sweet!

2. Book Release Day!

Yep, if you haven’t heard, I recently became a contributing author to a book about motherhood. (I wrote a more detailed post about it here.) I am so excited that I was chosen and today is the official book release day! I have included the book on my sidebar that links it to Amazon should you be so inclined to purchase it. But shameless plug aside, I just really wanted to share this exciting news! They are promoting the book release in a radio interview in the states today to help spread the word about this amazing cause. Thanks again to all of you for your support!

Front Cover

Back Cover

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‘Tis The Season For?

That’s a loaded question! I know for some this time of year is more stressful than any other! My Facebook feed is full of all the parents with their sneaky Elves, the bakers, lovely presents, tempting sales, gorgeous traveling, wonderful Christmas Markets, and beautiful Christmas trees. And yet, somehow, despite seeing everyone so busy and socializing, I find myself retreating. I’m turning inward and wanting to spend more time with just my boys. I’m not writing as much and reading little. I’m playing with my son during the day and watching movies with my husband at night as we plan our little one’s special Christmas. I’ve never been one for all the hustle and bustle over Christmas. I have never felt that is what it’s all about. I think this year, though, I have other reasons for my retreat.

Maybe I am a little homesick, not for just a place, but for different times in my life.

Maybe it’s because finances aren’t as good as they could be, preventing the extra fun to be had.

Maybe it’s both of these things.

But maybe, just maybe, those things are helping me to actually sit back, relax and enjoy what is important every day, not just this time of year. Maybe these things are the start of  something new.

I was recently asked through an expat advisor if I had any advice for expats during the holidays. While this is my first holiday as a new expat, I’ve been here before and I know the drill. I know how to get through and make it work and what I said is simple.

Make the holidays your own. Don’t focus on the traditions you feel you are missing, but the new ones you can create. 

And I think, I live in the perfect place to help me with that. While I miss my family and friends and some of the traditions I had before, I love these new ones I am slowly creating. Germany’s Christmas markets are simply gorgeous and still hold on to so much tradition of their own. My instagram will show a few photos from during the day, but it is so much more magical at night and this was my first time ever going in the evening and only the second time to ever go at all! Sadly though, I think it is harder for this unprofessional photographer to get good photos. Nonetheless, I hope you can see why I adore Christmas in Germany!

Trierer Weihnachts Markt

My first time having roasted chestnuts and this family has been doing it for 3 generations!

Käthe Wohlfahrt Traditional Decorations Store

My first Dampfnudel with cherries and vanilla sauce.

“Meat Street” literally translated as this was the street that many used to live on right next to the standard market.

So from this little girl and all the wonderful tradition she grew up with

Yep, that’s me not my son!

To this grown woman and her wonderful husband and their little boy making new ones!

Warm & fuzzy from some yummy Glühwein!

Wishing all my fellow expats a wonderful time of new traditions! xx

Something Real. Definitely Not G-Rated. Maybe An Overshare.

So, if you’re interested, sit back and relax because this is going to be very wordy and most likely, intense. If you’re in the mood for happy, warm and fuzzy or holiday related, turn back now! 


From the time I was a little girl, I have always suffered from bad migraine headaches. As this is nothing unusual, plus my father suffers from them, my family never thought anything of it and I never went to a doctor specifically for them. In 2004, I started having heart problems. I would wake up from sleeping with a resting heart rate of almost 200 beats per minute. I had heart palpitations and I would sporadically have those instances where my heart would just race. Several doctors wrote it off as stress; granted, I was working full-time, in college full-time and doing my internship. I was a busy girl. But I didn’t feel stressed! Finally, I saw a doctor who said to just come in whenever it happens. Stop what I’m doing and get there. So I did.

He was also convinced it was stress and anxiety and gave me Xanax in the office. My heart rate didn’t slow. He gave me more. It still didn’t slow down. He checked and saw the palpitations and irregularity on my EKG and sent me by ambulance to the hospital. I was discharged by a doctor stating I was a “typical woman with anxiety and needed to see a psychiatrist”. The only reason I remember this memory fondly is because my little 5’1″ mom got in this doctor’s face and argued with him. It didn’t help, but it made me feel loved and supported (and it was really cute to see my mom be so protective).

Flash forward to March 2006 when I get in a moderately bad car accident. I stopped for an ambulance, but the guy behind me apparently didn’t hear the loud sirens. He slammed into the back up my SUV so hard he totaled his car, it threw my gear shift into park and opened the cover to my sunroof. I got out of the car and felt my back crack all the way down. Needless to say, I ended up at an emergency quick care and later sent on to a chiropractor with very bad whiplash. After weeks of seeing a chiropractor and not getting any better, I complained to him that I was just having so many problems with weakness in my neck, right arm and shoulder. He decided to do an MRI stating I should be improving and he could see I was actually becoming worse. I had it done on a Friday and he called me that night asking me to come in Monday morning. That weekend, I lost complete feeling in my right arm and hand; only for several minutes, but long enough to know something was wrong.

Monday came along and I went in to see my chiropractor.  He asked me how I was to which I told him what happened over the weekend. The next several minutes of our conversation become a blur after he tells me I have two large cysts in my spinal cord and I need to see a neurosurgeon. I’m quite sure he explained things and answered my questions, but I have no idea what happened next. All this from that car accident? 

I didn’t grasp the gravity of what was happening.

Weeks went by, more MRI’s and I finally got in to see my first neurosurgeon. He saw my scans and literally the first words out of his mouth were “Holy shit I have never seen any that big before”. He goes on to explain that I have a congenital malformation of my brain called Chiari Malformation Type I causing my brain to be too large for my skull and thus, blocking the base where my spinal cord connects to my brain. As a result, fluid built up in my spinal cord causing my secondary condition, Syringomyelia, which is a fancy and scary word for having a syrinx (fluid-filled cyst) inside my spinal cord. I was lucky enough to have two of these bad boys. He said I would need to see his partner who is a specialist in these disorders and I would need to have brain surgery. I’m sorry, did you just say brain surgery? I’m still stuck on congenital malformation! All I remember is going to out to the parking lot, sitting in my car and crying to my mom on the phone scared that I could die or become paralyzed which were both obvious possibilities. I was going to have BRAIN SURGERY! What the fuck is happening to my life?

I go see the specialist and he is wonderful. He explains everything so well and puts me at ease. He also goes on to say that my heart problems were a symptom of my disease and most likely I would have had a heart attack if I hadn’t been in the car accident. Apparently, while this congenital defect and secondary illness are both fairly common, they masquerade as other things. Not enough doctors are familiar enough with them to consider that my heart problems were a result of a neurological condition.

In just two months since the accident, I was already declining as it had exacerbated my symptoms. I was in a lot of pain, slurring my speech and tripping and falling often. He wanted to schedule the decompression surgery right away. I will spare you the details, but basically in this surgery, he enlarged the base of my skull by removing some of the skull itself as well as C-1 and portions of C-2 and replacing with grafts.

It was intense to say the very least.

No one can prepare you for this.

Thank God he kept my tattoo in tact!

Thank God he kept my tattoo in tact!

I knew I would be on bed-rest for 12 weeks, but I had no idea I would have to have a walker for a while and not even be able to do the simplest of things. I had no idea the intense pain that would last for 6-7 weeks with little relief. None of us knew if the surgery would even help. There is no cure for Chiari Malformation or Syringomyelia. The reason to have the surgery is to attempt to prevent the syrinxes from becoming larger, causing more nerve damage, thus preventing many other problems and even death.

I can tell you that it did help many of my symptoms; the slurred speech, my balance, the constant ringing in my ears I have had since I was a child and even my heart palpitations and irregularities. However, it made my migraines much worse and more often. The nerve damage on my right side can’t be repaired so I still have problems with weakness in my shoulder, arm and hand. I have inflammation throughout my body which sometimes causes a lot of joint pain. I have days where I am just so exhausted.

I’m 37 years old and I sound like I’m 80. Some days I feel like it and those are the days I disappear. The pain gets the better of me and it’s all I can do to complete the basic most necessary tasks of the day.

These are invisible illnesses.

On the outside, I look fine. I smile and carry on and you’d never know. And that is what sometimes makes this so much harder.

This is not something you can just easily share with someone. The look on their face, the sound in their voice, they become speechless. I don’t blame them. What do you say? So, I just disappear and make up an excuse. What I want to say is….

I am sick. I suffer from a chronic neurological illness. I will never get better unless a cure is discovered.

Sometimes I disappear. I have to rest my mind and more importantly, my body.

I know there is nothing you can do. I don’t expect anything or ask any more than your gracious understanding.


There was a deep need inside me to share this with all of you. (It has also been “a bad week”.) Sharing is cathartic and therapeutic and provides me an outlet. It also helps spread education and awareness. Plus this opens the door to share the stories I have about seeing neurologists here in Germany! Those you will want to stick around for!

The month of September is our national awareness month and we are represented by a purple ribbon. Here are a few great organizations out there who are leading the way in research, education, awareness and support:

For those of you that made it this far, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Thank you for listening and making your way through this post. I know it wasn’t easy.