A house becomes a home

While my husband went to drop his mother off at the truck stop, and made sure she got off safely in her Peterbilt, I took the dogs for our first long morning walk without daddy. Long leads + squirrels + early morning cool == CRAZY ODIN. Thankfully Gina and Azzie behaved, because Odin drove me NUTS with is behaviour. My arms were so weak by the time we got home I could barely lift them! If we walk on the streets again, I am using the short leads – LONG WALK OR NOT! *shakes fist*

After that, when we were all home again, we had breakfast (leftovers from last night) and then got stuck in to some of the little things left to do in our home. We sorted the dog toys (donate/throw out) and all their leads and harnesses. Tomorrow I will sort out all their medications and tablets and wipes and that kind of thing. We also put up our photos and pictures and posters and metal posters. Rosie is back in her proper spot above my “office” area. We even got to hang BOTH the soccer frames up, because we have so much space! The dog photos are on the wall next to the back windows and we put the metal posters and license plates and things up the stairs and on the landing. It looks pretty cool! We tried putting up the Firefly (yes, Serenity) wall vinyl up, but it slowly peeled off, so we will do as the instructions say and wash it first and let it dry. We didn’t read the instructions the first time around… *hangs head*

Our photos that we took of our travels are up on the wall in the dining room area and there’s LOTS of space for more. We have a working printer now, so we can even print our own if we get the right paper. I did it back home – as long as you get the quality stuff and proper ink, it’s just the same as the shops do it.

Hmm. What else? Oh yes, I made my first sale! My mother in law fell in love with the Jardins du Midi perfume and also a few of the bracelets and earrings. She couldn’t afford to buy EVERYTHING she wanted, so she just got the perfume and a bracelet for herself (the Sunset on the Seine, leather wrap bracelet) and one for her sister this time. But she says that whenever she pops in, she will definitely buy something as she really likes the selection. She’s kind of a Chloe-Bel – she likes the classic stuff, but also some of the more trendy stuff. I was so thrilled to make my first sale. Just wish I could make some more before October is over – you get some pretty cool incentives if you do. I’ve just got to work out how to market it better – in a friendlier and more relaxed way. I don’t want to SELL SELL SELL to everyone. I want the products to speak for themselves – they really ARE gorgeous and worth it. So I now need to sort my OWN image out and get it out there that way.

home comforts - tea and shiny jewelry - chloe and isabel

I discovered Smore.com too! Wow it makes things SO easy! You can create flyers and brochures and they are SO easy to make but so professional and sharp looking at the same time. I made one for all the October goodies that are up for grabs – you can send them to pretty much ALL social media, including LinkedIn and Google+, which works for me, as I don’t have Facebook. I’ve had a good think about creating another Facebook account, but I really just cannot be bothered. I just really need to work on the social media I already have. Instagram, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest. I’m sure I’m forgetting one… but I can’t think of it right now.

My business cards arrived from VistaPrint!! They look so professional and cool! I’m glad I took their recommendations (they do it as you create things – and you can make SO MANY branded things, from tshirts to business cards to tote bags to cups!) I gave some to my mother in law and she will hand them out when she heads home (only in November, but that’s ok – it’s still a huge help to me!) and husband says he will take some to work eventually – just not straight away as he’s not even started yet and it would be bad form I think, to start handing out things when you’ve just arrived!

home based - Chloe and Isabel jewelry

I’ll just have to look AWESOME when I come visit him or come fetch him from work :) I shall BE Shiny, and they shall WANT Shiny. I might even work that into my tag line… Be Shiny and they will Want Shiny.  Or something. It’s a work in progress!

Pretty sure that despite all the good food (and bad food) we’ve been eating recently (before our HHG arrived and I could cook properly) I’ve actually lost weight… can’t check though as our poor scale seems to have shuffled off this mortal coil. *sigh* We’ll have to get ANOTHER one. This will be our FOURTH scale. They don’t make them like they used to, that’s for sure. Back home, we have the SAME scale we’ve had for about 20 years. Works great.

Husband begins in-processing tomorrow… he’s a little nervous, and a bit sad to be ending this lovely long holiday we’ve had together! We’re lucky in that: we can be “on holiday” anywhere, as long as we are together, with the dogs. Oh and he got a SUPER COOL haircut yesterday at a PROPER barber shop! It’s called Dapper and Company Men’s Grooming Lounge, and he loved the whole authentic barber shop experience. He was there for 2 hours and got a haircut (an undercut) and a great shave.

While he was out, I went through my clothes again and my mother in law had a look through what I was donating and grabbed a few things for herself as well.

I think that’s it for an update for now!

I’ll be back with more!

Thanks for reading and STAY SHINY!


Adventures in Americaland: Part Bee

And in this adventure story, there will be hurricanes, DNA results, surgeries, Lyme disease, new old cars, a road trip to the rural South of Georgia, new opportunities, broken things, fixed things and lots and lots of boxes.

Adventures in Georgia - Tip of the Hurricane

First – the hurricane. If you are even vaguely aware of the weather around the world, you would have seen in the news the swath of destruction left behind by Hurricane Joaquim. Luckily for us, it focused its rage on South Carolina, and we only got the tail/tip – but it was pretty heavy even then. Pouring, driving rain for 5 days straight, windy and ranging from very cold and wet to very warm and wet. Strange times. The dogs and I got soaked, generally (I went through a lot of socks) as I wasn’t keeping them indoors anymore, because we were in the middle of discovering/mentally mapping our neighbourhood and checking out all the walk routes we had on offer. Note: there are LOADS of different routes, some nicer than others, some to be avoided in the mornings (too many kiddies on the way to school “OOH PUPPIESCANIPATTHEMCANICANIOMGTHEYBARKED *cue the screaming* and also the forest paths are lovely but best avoided in the early morning and early evening as that’s when the deer come out… and thus.. the hunters. Seriously.) and others to be avoided around lunch time as that’s when people come home during their lunch hour and feel it’s fine to just kick the dog out and “let them be” outside. No lead. No tether. No watchful eye. Nada. Odin does NOT like this idea and we’ve had a few frothing snarling snapping sessions while I drag him down the road, accompanied by barking (excited) Azzie and growling and barking (protective) Gina. Tim (from BH) was right: there was a great deal of “regression” for Odin in his behaviour, but he seems to be coming right now. It’s much easier to remove him from a situation than it was when we first got here – he was a monster. *Deep breath* I don’t even want to think about that first week.


Speaking of Odin! His DNA test results (thank you Wisdom Panel) came back today! And we were TOTALLY WRONG about the breeds he has in him! No Greyhound whatsoever (of any type) or Border Collie for that matter. Guess what he is? German Shepherd…. and… Irish Red and White Setter… AND… wait for it… Keeshond! Yes, you heard me… Keeshond! We were NOT expecting that one! Not sure where that falls in with his traits and behaviours and looks… but there you have it. He’s truly a mix and match, our gentle boy. I was on the right track with his training though – they are all tracking/hunting/search dogs, and of course GSH love agility too, so we’ve got him right there. Now we just need to find a local area to practice/socialise him again. And the girls.

Adventure Dog Odin - German Shepherd Dog, Red and White Setter, Keeshond
German Shepherd, Red and White Setter, Keeshond. Who knew?

I finally bit the bullet and bought the training collars… tone and vibrate only. We’re going to test it on ourselves first anyway, and then decide HOW and WHEN we will use them. Azzie will get one as well (I bought the 2 pack) to help curb her various naughty habits. We’ve tried everything else and she just ignores it and does what she wants, so I think this will work. I’ve been consistent. I’ve been patient – but over 2 years and she’s still doing her own thing, despite my best efforts? Yeah. Time for a new angle, right? I would never hurt my dogs – let me just state that right up front – but for distance training (for Odin) and catching Azzie in the exact moment of her bad habit (various ones!) will be much easier with this option. I’m still reading every bit of literature I can find on training using the collars, and we will only begin when we feel totally sure of what we are doing. My dogs are too precious to me to mess it up by just wading in and learning as we “go along” kind of thing. Nuh uh.

Precious dogs being Bernese, we keep a watchful eye out for lumps and bumps… and we found two (and now THREE) on Azzie, of various sizes. So on Friday morning last week she went in for surgery to have them removed. She didn’t go under – she was heavily sedated though, because she’s wriggly – but there was a heavy local anesthetic in the affected areas. She came through fine, none the worse for wear. The incision on her back is quite large, and for some reason the vet missed a stitch.. so there’s a little gap between two of them (6 stitches altogether) which we are keeping a close eye on for infection. She’s handling it well – I trimmed the excess hair around the edges of the shaved part, as it was tickling her and making her lick/scratch the area – and has been 80% good about not messing with the surgery areas. The one on her front leg is healing very quickly (only 1 stitch) and she has totally stopped licking that one now. She goes back to have the stitches removed in just under 2 weeks time. We MIGHT have to go in earlier if it gets infected, despite our best efforts. Here’s hoping they hold out until then.

Adventure Dog Azzie - Bernese Mountain Dog
Azzie ponders things in the back of the minivan

My other precious Bernese, Gina, got a faint positive for Lyme disease before we left Germany, so the vet there suggested (strongly) that we get her tested again when we settle in here. So we did. Took over a week for the results (they do off site testing, unlike Germany) and it came back with another faint positive – so she either HAD Lyme disease (which is totally likely with the HORRIBLE ticks we had in Baumholder, who were seemingly impervious to anti-tick stuff!) at one point recently, or currently has it. Either way, she is being treated now and hopefully no damage has been done to her (already delicate) kidneys. Also hoping it will clear up the random lameness issue she has. It should, if it’s Lyme related.

Adventure Dog Gina - Bernese Mountain Dog
My sweet girl

In our urgent quest for a reliable and suitable second hand car (before our rental had to be returned) we have traveled far and wide around Georgia. One of our trips was far out into the country to view a comfy and well loved and used 4Runner. We headed down toward a place called Lincolnton and a road called Lincoln. This was the real South, people. The one you see in the movies and on TV shows about farmers and small towns. White fences, huge acres of grass, big drooping Willow trees, horses, cows, beloved old trucks kept in mint condition, combine harvesters, rolls of wheat resting in cropped down pastures, men and women sitting with their dogs on the porch and enjoying the afternoon light and the sweet smells from the Sweetpea flowers. Idyllic. Breathtaking. Peaceful. The light was absolutely gorgeous and I wished I had brought Bertha along. Little Ziggy (my purple point and shoot) did just fine though and I got some lovely shots as we drove through back roads and tree lined avenues that went on for miles and miles in one direction. It was a serene trip, there and back, and we had comfortable silences and many interesting and amusing conversations. We didn’t bring the dogs on this one, as there wasn’t much space in the back of the small rental car (we swapped it out a few days before – got rid of the minivan, as we didn’t need it anymore) for them to relax on a long trip like that. We checked out the 4runner, but it was a little TOO worn for our liking (knobs and things missing, bits falling off, and an unsettling smell that we couldn’t quite narrow down) and we thanked the VERY nice people and headed back home. Dogs were thrilled to see us of course. A few days later we went to check out an SUV (also an older one) and that was even more “well worn” – but luckily the man who was sorting the sale out for his elderly neighbour said “well I have this car here that we’ve done up and we’re selling” and we walked across the road to have a look at an older Honda Accord Station Wagon. We liked her, the moment we saw her… but we still had others to check out, so we drove her a bit, had a think and said we would get back to him. We then checked out a whole bunch of other cars and it all came down to a choice between a younger Honda Civic and this older station wagon. It was a difficult choice, but in the end a vast array of Pros in favour of the station wagon won out and we purchased her two days later. The Georgia DMV – Augusta one, anyway – is rather nice :) We had no issues and soon we had plates, and license, and registration and then we had to think of a name. It took a few days, but we settled on Daisy. As in… driving Miss Daisy. She’s adorable and the dogs are LOVING all the space in the back! We’ve been giving her lots of TLC (new tyres, new sparks, etc etc) and she’s giving us back a smooth easy ride. Match made. Happy us.

Adventure car - Miss Daisy Adventure car - Miss Daisy

Before we even left Germany we were on the look out for a washer and dryer (they don’t come with the house furnishings, unfortunately) and we found a set for a good price. We asked the reason for the good price and we were told that the dryer “just needed a starter button” and it was good to go. Lies. LIES! We’ve changed the starter button, changed the thermal fuse, tested all the wiring with a (newly purchased) volt meter and WE STILL CANNOT GET THE DAMN DRYER TO WORK! So it’s been “hang it outside on sunny days” old school laundry for us. The Sears serviceman was meant to come and check it out this morning, but they called and changed the date so we’re without a dryer for ANOTHER week. Meh. Hopefully it stays sunny for the next few days so we can get some laundry dry.

At least the washer works well.

My DIY husband handyman has fixed a few things in the house on his own, and when our shelves arrived with our HHG, he also (with a tiny bit of help.. seriously, hardly any help from me – I just held things and handed them to him) put them up and anchored them like a pro. Very proud of his handiwork!

A long time ago I had a chat with a friend about ways to make money while being a stay at home wife and fur mother, herbalist, photographer and seamstress but also contribute to my awesome family in more ways (especially financial) I have found many things and done many things. Where we were living before (Germany) made it quite difficult to get green things going and maintain them (and we had no garden and anything I grew in pots had to remain behind when we left… which we did, just over 2 weeks ago. It was hard saying goodbye to Persephone, Bob, George, Terence & Phillip, and the little Bamboos, but we found them a good home with a lovely German lady who will take good care of them all) and my other hobbies and potential income avenues (vintage inspired clothing and photography) were not allowed on the military post. Long story. But NOW… now we are back in the Land of the Free, and I can once again pick up the reins of these various projects and I’m very excited. I’ve also added two more ways to add to the family income. One is a virtual assistant site that I am a proud member of (Fancy Hands, if anyone is interested) and the other… wow… the other is even more exciting. I’ve been accepted as a Merchandiser for the rather cool, clever and fashion forward company chloe + isabel.

Adventures in Jewelry - Chloe and Isabel

Now those who have known me since I was younger might be a little surprised at this (for a few reasons) and why I am so keen and excited about this opportunity. They perhaps thought I was too much of a tomboy to be “fashionable”, but I was always interested in fashion (even tried my hand at fashion design, much to my mother’s horror) but could never afford anything that I wanted and never had the tools to make anything properly. Or the patience, I will admit. I’ve always had very expensive taste (something I share with my mother and now my husband as well) and my idea of style was classic and elegant. (I’m an Isabel, according to the Friendship Philosophy of Chloe and Isabel) A complete opposite to what I wore (wear still…) when I was not in school uniform. Audrey Hepburn type of style: effortless, simple, classy and never going out of fashion. I secretly (and not so secretly) collected Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and any other fashion magazine I could get my hands on. Didn’t matter if it was 10 years old or 10 minutes. I’m not sure what happened after that (don’t remember – thanks head injury) that made me stop dreaming, but there were many years of quiet introspection where I “made do” with what I had and never really looked beyond my comfortable, useful and simple daily clothes. Work or weekend, I wore the same kind of thing. To be fair, I rode horses, walked dogs and stood around at events taking photos for 8 or 9 hours at a time, so comfortable was pretty key in what I wore.

The last few years, after marrying my gorgeous and awesome husband, I’ve started trying to develop my “style” – in between walking dogs of course. I’ve looked at starting a capsule wardrobe (after I learned that you don’t include “exercise” clothing or pajamas in the count! WOO!) and was looking at Stitch Fix as an option as well, but have since had a look at my wardrobe contents and I think I can make something out of what I already own, PLUS I will have all these GORGEOUS accessories from chloe and isabel!

jewelry adventures and why I love my branch necklace

Now to the point of this: moving to the States, settling into our little home and not having to move for a few years has made me realise that NOW is the time to start this: fresh clean slate, new me, new style, new attitude. I think that Chloe + Isabel is that kick in the bottom I need. I’m very excited about this!

When our household goods arrived two days ago (and with it, my clothes and shoes) I have been brutally honest and begun the process of paring it down to a few classic and timeless items that I can mix and match. The rest will go to charity/thrift shop. My mum is also going to send me what’s left of my stuff back home. It’s not a lot, but there are clothes there as well (I had to fit my life into two suitcases when I left home and moved to Germany to join my husband) and some shoes too (boots mostly, and riding things) and lots of books and music! I’m being positive about this all. I’m taking it all as a major opportunity to be the ME I’ve always wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive husband as well. He makes all the difference. He said, “You have to spend money to make money, Andrea, so just do it.” I don’t want to let him down so I will be dedicated and try my UTMOST to make a success of this. I already have ideas, I have to admit, for things to do to get my name out there and start selling these beautiful pieces. Just have to get it all together. We’re still unpacking boxes from HHG, but we’re getting there and our house is beginning to look like a home already :)

I think that’s a good place to end Part Bee of the Adventure stories.

I’ll update more as it happens, of course.

Until then, thanks for reading!


Closer and closer – An Update

I thought it was time for another little update, as The Big Move gets closer day by day.


Just a few last items to update on our To Do list – need to find a buyer for Helga, asap, as we have to clear the vehicle registration department and can’t do that with a car on our name which we are not shipping back. We had a long list of buyers, and then slowly they fell through: they either got impatient and bought a car elsewhere, or they spoke to spouses “back home” who decided that they didn’t want the car, even though said spouses would never drive her… *shrug*, or they decided that she had too many kilometers on her, or they decided our price was too high all of a sudden. We’re left with 3 possibles: One of them is a young private who can’t really afford the car, but desperately wants it and needs to sell his little skadonk first and is trying hard to. We’re running out of time though, so we can’t give him forever… however, after all the other buyers fell through we went back to him and my husband has tried to make a deal with him and might even lower the price a bit if the other two possibles don’t respond soon.

After that, it’s health certificates for the dogs – and Odin’s tummy has been bad the last 24 hours but seems to be settling so I’m hoping he will be fine by the time our appointment rolls around. Otherwise they might not give him a clean bill of health to fly! On a side note from this: I tried a natural remedy that contained Slippery Elm to help alleviate his symptoms and it seems to have worked even better than the Sucralfate tablets that the vet gave us the last time they all had issues. I’m impressed… but of course Odin has not gone to the loo (#2 I mean – he’s piddled on everything today!) yet today, despite 3 long walks ranging from over 30 minutes to to an hour… I have been feeding him only a little bit of chicken and rice though, so I think it takes longer for that to become enough for him to need to go to the loo. Hoping that’s the case and it’s not a blockage that caused the issue in the first place. He tends to eat things and chew on things, and pick things up off the ground – old habits of a stray street dog die hard, eh? Another side note, which should probably be an entire post on its own, is my discovery of the Hedgewitch. It fits all my boxes and gets all the ticks and gold stars on my lists. Perhaps, when I am feeling more open and confident about it and where I stand, and we are more settled in our new home, I will post an entire explanation and back story about why I ended up searching/seeking/discovering the Hedgewitch. Mostly it’s just a very keen interest in herbs, plants and natural healing… and Nature herself as well. There’s a lot more to it than that, of course, but as I said – that’s a story for another time and I’ll update you when the time is right.

Other than Odin’s tummy troubles today and yesterday, the dogs are doing very well. Azzie actually likes her den and sleeps in it quite often (they are set up in the dining room, as there is nothing there anymore and we needed to keep the dogs in training with the dens, before the Big Move) without any asking/prompting from me or husband. Gina also goes into hers every now and then, without being asked, as she likes it but she likes getting a treat for going in there! Odin, being the experienced den traveler that he is… does NOT go into it without asking. He goes in, when asked, but does not enjoy it quite like the girls. He has other associations with being in a kennel so it’s not surprising, really. We train him too, but not as much as the girls. He will be fine when he’s in, it’s just the going in and out that we will have to watch him: he’s a darter.

What else can I update you all on? Our HHG have gone, 2 weeks ago now, and the rest of our shipped stuff (not going with us on the plane) goes next week… A few days after that we move into the hotel.. and just 3 days after that… WE FLY!

It’s exciting, but also terrifying and stressful. I just want it all to go well: for us and for the dogs. Send vibes, friends. I wish we could just teleport instantly. This whole waiting thing is crappola.

Took some photos on our walk in the old forest today – going to miss that.
Oh! Yes! Yesterday my awesome husband helped me flush and clean 10 years worth (maybe more – I can’t remember exactly when I last had it done, but it was a LONG TIME ago) of ear gunk and wax out of my ears, as the last few days I have gone almost completely deaf with the build up. As he cleaned and flushed and picked disgustingly large pieces of wax out of my ear canals, I could finally hear. 100%. I nearly cried with the intensity and relief of it. After that it was a case of getting my brain to readjust my “levels” after so many years of being “clogged” and having about 40% hearing. The clarity is unbelievable. Everything is SO LOUD! I can hear people speaking inside their buildings, with windows closed. I can hear EVERYTHING! In the forest this morning I was almost overwhelmed with all the beautiful sounds from the birds and deer and beetles and bugs and who knows what else. It was incredible! I felt ALIVE again! I no longer felt like I was in a deep well – isolated and foggy and dark. I can’t thank my darling husband enough for going through it with me. It was painful at times, and quite uncomfortable most of the time, but TOTALLY WORTH IT!


Some more steps forward – PCS Stress and how to handle it

Tick tock… the time draws closer. PCS stress is no laughing matter! Moving is a crazy time – moving continents and countries is even harder – especially with three big dogs in tow.

Yesterday was a very stressful and tiring day for all of us. The moving people came and took away 99% of our “stuff” (HHG – for the military inclined)
Dogs were pretty darn well behaved – just a few “outbursts” from Gina, which of course set Odin and Azzie off. They spent the first hour on the balcony, just so that they could get used to the moving guys traipsing around the apartment and carrying boxes and the sound of tape being used and things being dismantled and boxed up. Then they got to come out and greet the movers (who loved them, despite Gina’s gold fish memory when they were going in and out of the door, carrying and fetching) and they then relaxed with us in one corner. Husband and I took turns sitting with them, or going and Doing Things, or just taking a little break and stretching our legs.
I took them for a couple of walks (including a 30 minute walk in the early morning before the movers arrived) during the day, and one drive in the car in the BUCKETING rain – just to get them out, as they couldn’t stay on the balcony in that weather! The roads were rivers! I had my wipers on at their fastest setting and it was still almost impossible to see! It was scary, but strangely fun too. Dogs were great, except that when that stormed rolled in, there was violent lightning and thunder and Azzie was a complete wreck. She actually scratched at the balcony door and was shaking and whining and drooling in terror. :( That’s when I took them for the drive – just so they could relax in the car (Azzie and Odin love my car: they feel safe) and get away from the stress of the apartment for a little bit. After that storm, even though it was calm again (just a little bit of rain) Azzie REFUSED (threw a complete tantrum) to go back onto the balcony, even if I sat with them. Eventually, around 7pm, the last box was taken down to the truck and we could close our door and settle in to the very bare and minimal apartment.
We kept the dog beds, and our bed linens, so the dogs had those familiar things to relax on and that helped with their stress levels. I couldn’t find their Rescue Remedy though! I am going to unpack my suitcase and backpack today and look for it. I know it’s there somewhere! I did pack it!

Otherwise, I am quite enjoying the minimal lifestyle that we are now living before the REST of our stuff gets packed (the stuff that flies over, so it SHOULD be there before the HHG) and then it’s just backpacks and suitcases for a few months!

I’m sitting here quietly, on the couch with my laptop on the coffee table, trying to be very quiet while the dogs snooze. There was very loud and constant range fire this morning on our long walk, and Azzie was once again a complete wet blanket. Poor thing. I think with all the stress of yesterday, and then the loud kabooms of today, she just couldn’t manage. She HURLED herself forward from the car and the whole way around and back to the car. Nearly pulled my arm out of the socket numerous times. She’s a strong girl and when she is scared/stressed she is even stronger! I’m not coddling her though – I know that just makes it worse for her – but I am trying to be “gentle”, with a all of them, after yesterday. They were really good, so I’m trying to be calm, serene, in charge for them today.

I really need another cup of tea though… and the loo!
I just don’t want to disturb Azzie, who is finally sleeping properly (no heavy breathing and drooling and shaking) after I closed the balcony door to stop her hearing the explosions from the range.

Ah, there we go.. she has stirred softly… now’s my chance!

Anyhoo – that was just a small update of things so far.


After a chat with my mum about my vegetarian health dilemma, I have decided to continue my vegetarian lifestyle but I now have a new set of tools from my mother: she told me all the things she made me, that I have not made for myself, that helped me stay healthy while under her roof. That was the first 8 years of my vegetarian life, so she did pretty well and I managed to muck it up in just on 2 years, on my own :) So I’m taking her advice to heart, and very seriously, and I’ve also upped my iron supplement intake (now at max) but I can’t up my B12, as that’s already at the maximum and any more is not healthy.

I feel better, after just a few days of this, but it’s early days of course and I have another “cycle” to get through before I celebrate any positive differences!


Things are moving forward (FAR TOO) quickly in the whole We’re Leaving The Country saga. Inspectors have come by, transport people have come by. We’ve signed things and set up final appointments, and now, on the (very sensible) advice of my husband, I need to pack my bags and see if I can live out of my two bags (suitcase and a large backpack) for the next few days, until they come to take all our stuff away. That way, I can see if I need anything, or if there’s anything I don’t actually use as much as I thought I would, before it’s too late to change my mind about what I am taking.

I also need to include all the dog stuff that we will have to travel with and have with us when we get there. My husband has to carry all his military gear (he’s also only taking 2 bags: a suitcase and a backpack) so I am (quite rightly) assigned the dog gear.

The closer we get to September, the scarier and more “real” it feels. It’s not a holiday (not that we’ve taken any of those recently) it’s actual MOVING. Taking our lives from one continent, over the ocean, to another continent. Taking our family – our beautiful fur children – and all our possessions – and putting them on a plane (or a ship) and off we go…

Taking my Rescue Remedy now, as things are starting to jump up and down in my mind more intensely. Giving the dogs their own Rescue Remedy (made for pets) and watching for any tummy troubles related. Of course, me being the idiot that I am sometimes, I gave them a LITTLE bit of ice cream yesterday, after our very long lunch time walk. Azzie’s tummy was fine, fine and then bleh. Gina went twice on our early morning walk, but both were good. Hoping she’s ok. Odin’s tummy was fine.

Azzie is getting used to her puppy cut, and Gina is enjoying the coolness of her trim down as well. I’m going to trim her chest and neck a bit more though – it’s still a bit long and she generates a lot of heat in there. I can feel it when I give her a scratch or put her collar on.

What else? Oh, hit another high point this morning… or low point? in my weight loss journey – getting very close to my final weight goal. So that’s cool. Will see how my journey continues when we reach Americaland.

I’m procrastinating. *sigh* I need to Get Things Done.

Still trying to sell Helga (Naartjie is already under new ownership, but the owner is away so he’s allowing us use of her until we leave – he’s awesome) so I need to put an advert up asap, as all other avenues have not panned out. I put up for sale ads everywhere I was allowed, but we only got 2 calls and one of them he said it was too much so I said call back in a month or so…

Our first real walk

I’ve been watching Cesar Millan’s show for quite a long time, but never fully “got” how it worked until I watched the last few episodes where he explained how to find the _actual_ instigator of trouble – the one with the over excited energy, usually – and correct them first (and usually if you correct them the other members of your pack don’t need to be)
Well, I’ve always thought it was Odin, or even Gina – but I’ve been observing them all for the last few days when I walk them, trying to figure it out… and it’s Azzie (I had an idea, but I never really _saw_)
I finally saw it! I corrected her – basically ignored the other two… and wow. She back talked me, as she does, but I was calm, in charge, corrected her again more firmly… and bamm. Sorted. We saw the two little Daschunds that caused her (and then of course Odin) to go completely berserk before… and we walked by them, even with them (the weiners) prancing around at the end of their leads, trying to get their owners’ attention.
I have also discovered the correct _pace_ to walk at, and that they sniff when i say so, and I am in control now.
Long story short – I FINALLY HAD A PROPER WALK! A REAL pack walk. I feel… amazing… it’s like exercise endorphin… i’m HAPPY, elated… but I feel… powerful. It was so COOL! I walked, they walked next to me (or behind me, as Gina does) and there was NO tangling leads or twisting around me or standing in front of me etc… we just… WALKED!
I did “picture it” first, before I even put their leads on… and it works. It really works.
Of course we will still have our bad days, nothing is an instant fix and it’s a mental state I have to keep all the time, but if I can just remember this feeling, and go back to that state of mind… things are going to get so much better for my whole pack. :)


This morning’s long walk was a little more trying, but I did see traces of _something_ happening… but we were not quite there yet – Odin fought with me to stay next to me (he wanted to go ahead all the time) and Azzie kept barging over as well. I almost lost my cool, but stopped and took a breath and we carried on.

We had a lovely swim session in the secret pond as well – happy dogs :)



And there it is

So, people – there it is. Goal weight. Or should I say _initial_ goal weight (I still want to lose a little more, but this was my first goal to reach, to keep me motivated)

I wasn’t expecting it, as I’ve been feeling a bit meh the last few days (headache, etc) but still eating (nothing stops me eating – not even food poisoning – I’m African) and running with Odin (who is doing superbly, by the way) and of course all the walks with the pack. It was a nice surprise, I have to say! I was expecting maybe 1 pound less than yesterday ( I did acknowledge that I’d been pretty good about my portion control since the weekend, when I binged on pizza and beer with my husband) but instead I found 2.5 pounds dropped off. It’s a good feeling. Now I just need to maintain, and/or drop a little more and then I am going to start weights, and get some tone to my jiggly bits.

Yay me! Of course, waking up this morning my knees were incredibly sore :/ Just my body reminding me that I turn 40 in a few months – another reason I wanted to reach this goal weight before that day. Psychological barrier and all that.

40. Quite honestly I never thought I’d make it to forty, much less be married to an American and living in a foreign country. I couldn’t “see” my life passed around 25. That was my “I am a grown up now” age, when I was a young girl. 25 was OLD. 25 was a “real grown up with a job and stuff” but I never wanted kids or to be married – I was never one of “those” girls who planned my wedding and picked my dress out before I’d even turned 14. I played with dolls, but I made them do crazy stuff like bungee jump and ride motorbikes and do karate. I never gave it a thought, really. I was too busy playing “Thundercats” and climbing mountains and riding around on my bicycle (while I had one, anyway – it was called Lightning and I pretended she was a horse) until the street lights came on and I headed home to read books until much later than I was meant to be up, and eat peanut butter toast.

Life has been… interesting and a challenge at times. I’ve been through some hectic sh*t, but I’m stronger each time I come out the other side. A bit more worn and dirty and cynical and jaded, but much stronger for sure. I have many scars – both physical and emotional – and while I do try to be open-minded and easygoing, I DO have certain things that rile me up no matter how hard I try not to let them. But I’m not ashamed of that, or any of my scars. My life is my life. It’s made me who I am and what I am. If I was not who I was at the time, I would never have made the decision to break out of IT and get into photography, quit my job and start riding horses all over the place. I would never have met my husband, because I wouldn’t have been house/dog sitting so much.

So many paths taken that have led me here. Nearly 40 and living in Germany, on an American military post, with my gorgeous husband and 3 beautiful furry children.

Life, huh? It’s cray-cray.



well pleased

This last weekend was our second attempt at dog obedience/training classes.
We took Odin on his own on Saturday, but unfortunately due to staffing issues, the trainer couldn’t stay and had to return to OR to man the desk/counter, so instead I sent Odin and husband off to walk with the only other people who pitched up: Punchen (not sure how to spell it) the deaf, albino Great Dane pup (only 7 months old and he is over 130lbs) and his owner, Stephanie. Initially Odin was very wary of the big lug, but my husband said that as they walked, he got over it, and eventually they were walking side by side for quite a bit of the walk. That’s awesome news.
And then Sunday, the trainer suggested we take Odin early, on his own, for the “puppy play class” just so he could chill and watch and see how things went without worrying about Azzie. He didn’t have to do anything (but he did go into the agility arena for a walk around with the other pups) and he just chilled, while the puppies ran around and played together. My husband said he was very good – just a few “moments” but much better.
Then I arrived with Az and G, and this time around I let Azzie greet all the dogs (on her own) and she was 99% better. She’s a social dog and likes to meet everyone, which is my main issue: when the dog doesn’t WANT to meet Azzie she still wants to go say hi – so I thought that letting her say hi and interact a bit with the others would put her more at ease… and it WORKED!!
I was so proud of her! The only barking/craziness came when she was playing with husband and Ods in the “time out” area (it’s enclosed, so he took them in there for them to play when we got there – as Odin desperately wanted to play with his big sister, after watching all the other dogs play together) even though they weren’t in time out, while I took Gina into the agility arena and ran her through that. Gina was AWESOME!! Everyone was so impressed. She didn’t do the raised walking thing, or the rigid tunnel (it was set up in a curve, so she couldn’t see the other side, and she’s never done it before so the trainer said don’t worry about it this time) and she did a shortened version of the soft tunnel, but she jumped everything, and even did the see-saw and BOTH sets of weave poles :) I was so pleased with her! She was also very pleased with herself! She LOVES to do that stuff!
Now that Odin knows some of the commands (he does, however lay down for “sit” and for “down” and for “relax” and for “gentle” – but we’re working on getting him to tell the difference) I took him through the rally course (obedience course) and while he was a little wary of the pieces of laminated plastic attached to the cones, he did really well :) He really is a smart dog, and is coming along so nicely. Everyone noted his progress, just as everyone commented on how good Azzie was this time around too.
Next week, I want to take Azzie through the agility course, and maybe even Odin… and then impress everyone with Gina on the rally course 😀

All in all, a really good weekend with them. A huge relief after the hell-hounds of last time.

Dog Training – The First Time

My husband signed “us” up for dog training and last week we went to check it all out, sans dogs. This week, we decided to go on the Sunday (the class runs Saturday and Sunday, every weekend and you can choose to go to both or just one) as we had things we needed to get done on the Saturday. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I was expecting anything amazing to happen in terms of how they behaved, but it’s still a little disappointing how crazy Azzie got. She was the main issue. Completely beside herself with excitement. And Odin needs a lot of work with socialising with other dogs (big or small – he doesn’t just have issues with small dogs, apparently) so every time he so much as twitched a whisker, Azzie would explode with barking and craziness. She wanted to step up and take charge of ANY situation where Odin felt uncomfortable – while I’m glad that they have bonded as a pack (well, Gina still feels Odin is on probation) I really need to split them up to keep them from hyping each other up to that point where nothing goes into their brains except OMG DOGS BARKING MUST BARK RUN JUMP GO CRAZY BE STUPID. It was not fun. Luckily, this time I had my husband with me to help (he held Odin and Gina while I wrestled with Azzie) but next weekend I will be on my own (as usual) so we’re thinking about how to do it. I think Odin only on Saturday – let him get more adjusted and comfortable without Azzie going ballistic every time Odin so much as sniffs another dog. And then maybe all three Sunday. I can’t leave Odin on his own (he already goes bananas if I take ONE of the girls down without him – leaving him on his own would be a nightmare, I think) and just let Gina chill and do what she wants – she’s a sweetheart: she behaves and listens, no matter what.
The GOOD parts were that they walked beautifully on our “group walk” and Odin did very well when my husband worked with him through the obedience course.
By the time it was my turn to try it with Azzie she was totally over the top and didn’t stop whining or behaving like the world was ending. So the instructor brought out his spare large-sized gentle-leader. Shoowee Azzie was NOT amused. He said that “most dogs” stop fighting after a short time…. I said Azzie is not “most dogs” and he heartily agreed. So we’ll just keep putting it on her for short periods and then removing it. Nothing attached.
Luckily it didn’t get TOO hot out there – but we were there for way too long, as my husband got the start time wrong for the class and we arrived early for that time, so we were there an extra hour or so.
And much to horror of the dogs – we ran out of treats!! Just when we needed them (for the actual training times!) I thought I was prepared (had plenty of water and poop bags) but clearly we need more next time, with 3 dogs being trained.
As I said – I wasn’t _expecting_ perfection, but it was still a bit disappointing to be proved so right :/ And no, I wasn’t “embarrassed” – I don’t really care what other people think when they see me struggling with my pooches – I was just disappointed, but also focused on fixing it all. I’m a perfectionist, so when things don’t work RIGHT, I get quite pissed off with myself.
HOWEVER, one very bright light during the whole thing: Gina :) My gorgeous Genius.
She was awesome, the whole time. Never put a foot wrong and was laid back and patient.
Next time I’ll get someone to hold the idiot, and Odin, while I show off with Gina on the obedience course! 😀

A morning deer escapade

Well it started out lovely – nice and cold, with a few sprinkles of rain on and off and a brisk cold breeze blowing…. and then it just went CRAZY!
I let Odin off his lead to play with Azzie, and they were having a GREAT time – running around, chasing each other, wrestling, etc… and then we headed down the steep hill toward the trees that were chopped down and there was a loud CRACK, as a deer SHOT from the trees to our right and RACED off across the open grass…
And of course, Little Man thought he could get it. And he came VERY close…
He chased off after it and in half a second they were GONE! Out of sight completely over the hill. I called and while Azzie did initially chase after them, she realised she had no chance of catching either of them and she came back to me – what a good girl. Gina of course knows her limits and just came and ran beside me (she was also too busy eating grass to even notice all the action at first!) So Azzie, G and I half ran half walked around calling for Odin and looking for him. Then I stopped and thought – where would the deer run to? Cover, for sure, so we headed down to the thick tree line back toward the path where we started… called some more and out popped Odin from the thick forest… he watched me – I think he was checking it was me, and then i called him and he came running back to me, all excited and totally RAMPED UP on adrenalin! Holy crap that dog can run. Sweet jeebus. We thought he was fast before, but wow when he has “incentive” he is 10 times as fast. And that’s with the wobbly back end, still. Azzie felt it was her duty to tell him what’s what and let him know that we DON’T DO THAT! And Gina also stepped up to give him whatfor for a few seconds… but I couldn’t reprimand him, as he did come to me when I called. But he definitely went back on his lead for the rest of the walk!!
He was still amped up and wanted to race Azzie – but she was like NUH UH, not a good time, dude! She kept looking at me to make sure everything was ok – but I wasn’t angry, I was just relieved he hadn’t chased the deer down to the road! I would never have seen him again, or he would have gotten hit by a car, and the deer too :(
So we all calmed down a bit, and then carried on on our walk. He STILL had energy and kept checking tree lines for more deer, and bashing himself into Gina or Azzie, hoping for them to play and run with him… little rascal. Daddy is DEFINITELY going to have to go running or cycling with Odin when he is healed up properly. This little dude has MAJOR energy. I am 100% sure he has Galgo or some sort of greyhound mix in him. He is unbelievably fast.
Thankfully, he is totally tuckered out now and fast asleep on his bed, snoring away and growling and huffing in his sleep, with his little paws twitching like crazy. Probably dreaming of chasing deer!
I saw two huge rabbits or hares when we first got onto the forest path, but the dogs didn’t see them, and Odin was still on his lead at the time, thankfully, because he could smell them.
Wow what a walk :)I was too amazed and astounded at Odin’s speed, and proud of Azzie (and Gina of course) for being so good despite all the action, to get upset/angry about it all.

Otherwise – the dogs were great. Azzie on her best behaviour. Gina eating grass, as she had some glurks (hair or something stuck in her throat – or so she thinks, and the world is ending until she can gobble down a bucket load of grass) and they all pooped and it was all good.

Update: Watching Azzie sleeping and she is now also “running” in her dreams… also chasing deer!