Four Years an Immigrant

I was pretty shocked to realise our four-year immigration anniversary came and went on the 25th of August. I was feverish with writing the final chapter or two of A Trial of Sparks & Kindling, so I didn’t even realise the anniversary had passed until a few days later. Four years an immigrant. In the […]

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Survival Tips for New Immigrants

Maybe it’s because I know so many people who have recently moved countries or are about to take that particular leap, but I’ve been thinking about life as a new immigrant a lot lately. Friends and acquaintances have been sharing so many firsts photos in their feeds, it’s difficult not to get all nostalgic about […]

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Things I Don’t Understand – Canada Edition

You know, we’ve been living in Canada for just over a year, and there are still things we really don’t understand. So many things are done differently in South Africa–which makes sense when compared to Germany, but one would think that Canada and South Africa would share more similarities, considering that both have a strong […]

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What’s Different – Calgary Edition

Freshly landed in Germany, I did a post comparing the most obvious differences between Johannesburg and Mülheim an der Ruhr. The post was pretty popular on the old blog, and ultimately led to quite a few comparison-type posts. I’ll link to all of these at the end of this post, if you’re interested. In the […]

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Calgary

Toronto is a city of skyscrapers. Steel and glass. Grey. Yet, there’s an energy there that refuses to be contained. It’s always on the move. Vendors and tourist and business people, rushing from place to place, night or day. Festival after festival, ball games, concerts, camera crews, and every culture represented in food and drink. […]

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Moving On

I guess now that the affected parties have been notified, it’s time to announce it here too. Due to circumstances beyond our control, the high cost of living in Toronto, and some personal reasons, our little family is moving on again. This time, we’re staying in the same country, thank goodness, but are moving to […]

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9 Months

To be exact, we hit the nine-month mark last Thursday. It’s the strangest feeling, looking at the calendar and realising how long we’ve lived in Canada. I can still recall the exact mix of excitement and grief when we had to say goodbye to our loved ones at Düsseldorf airport, then board the plane to […]

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A Comparison – Shopping

Let’s keep chatting about the differences between the cities where we’ve lived today. If you want to go back to the post that started it all, click here. Okay. Shopping in Johannesburg is simple. The shoppers are mostly laid back and the cashiers are friendly. There’s no rush either. People wait in line patiently and […]

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A Comparison – The Weather

The greatest of all the FAQ’s we are asked remains ‘what’s different?’, especially now that we’ve lived on three continents. The short answer is a lot, but that doesn’t seem to cut it with the asker. 🙂 So, I’ll do a series of posts that look at these differences in depth. Please do keep in […]

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Ice Ice Baby

It’s official, we’ve experienced another first on our journey. Last night, we had no electricity due to the insane storm that has been raging here in the north since Thursday. Ice rain, friends, is a bitch. If those of you back in sunny South Africa thought the worst thing that can possibly happen in Canada […]

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Better

I’ve tried to chronicle everything throughout this double immigration journey, more so this time around than the first. Being vulnerable on the internet is difficult, but in the name of helping other immigrants through their journey, I felt I had to make myself just that – vulnerable. As a result, you might have noticed many of […]

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The Five-Month Update

This Wednesday edition of Maple Mondays is brought to you by a broken router. Being without internet in this day and age is a form of torture, I’m certain. First world problems and all that, but seriously, the internet has become such an important part of my work and daily life. Being cut off from it […]

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Braving the Weather

This never gets old. If you, like my little family, have immigrated, or are planning to, brace yourself. Winter is coming, as are the questions about it. Moving to a country with a radically different climate from your home country is always interesting. I say interesting, because there’s something magical but challenging about the whole […]

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Say What?

Can you believe that we’re days away from our four-month anniversary of moving? I certainly can’t. In some ways, it seems we’ve been here forever. In others, it’s like we arrived yesterday. This strange limbo also hit while we lived in Germany, so I’m expecting it to last a while. Today, I want to talk about […]

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The Stages of Home – Maple Mondays

The time directly after immigration comes in five stages. Okay, fine, I made that up. This is based on personal experiences and conversations with many other immigrants from all over the world. Turns out, we tend to have the same emotional responses to this immigration-thing. Each person will experience the span of these differently, even […]

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Things I Miss About Germany

Nobody saw this post coming, right? 😛 Truth is, Europe was our home for two years. I don’t believe you can spend extended periods of time in any place and leave it exactly the same as you were when you entered it. People and places change you, whether you want it to or not. For […]

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Growing Pains

So, Kayla started school this week. Kindergarten in the rest of the world (well, the parts I’ve lived) and kindergarten (nursery school) in South Africa are vastly different concepts. ◄ This is something we’ve been learning really quickly. I also know how much some of you loved the differences posts I did while we were […]

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Let’s Do This

No, this isn’t another of those please-bear-with-me-posts, I really am here to blog to my little heart’s content. Starting today, the schedule is back in action. #FTW A general update on the Canada side of things – we’re getting there. Most of our stuff has been sorted. Heck, Kayla even started school today. You remember how […]

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I’ve been MIA again…

And I’m sorry. It’s been just a tad on the chaotic side of the spectrum here in our new home. You’d think I knew this by now, considering our recent history, but I’ve just realised that people have a distorted view of immigration. Many of the people we’ve spoken to recently picture the whole thing […]

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Boxes and Suitcases

Boxes and suitcases everywhere. This is my current reality. Those boxes we’re not shipping to Canada are full of stuff for charity. It’s a minefield. The clutter makes me anxious. It’s a combination of excitement and being totally overwhelmed, so every now and then I find myself disengaging to regain some semblance of focus. I […]

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Explanations

Fair warning – this is a long post. After Friday’s big news, we’ve had a lot of good wishes, emails and questions. I thought I’d address some of those today. Most people were surprised that we’re so unhappy in Germany, especially considering how happy all of our photo diary posts look. I talked about this briefly […]

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The Big News

As a teenager, I dreamed of moving to Hollywood. At first, I wanted to act. Who doesn’t? But then, one fateful day, I saw the work of my first idol, Steven Spielberg. More than anything, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and make films. I wrote many brilliant screenplays (they were Oscar winners one […]

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Little Differences (TGC)

We’ve been playing house in Germany for almost two years, but friends and loved ones still ask how living here differs from living in South Africa. The first ‘differences’ post was uploaded within the first two months since we moved to Germany, then I told you about some of the strange differences, like the German […]

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What I Love About Germany (TGC)

Have you noticed that people tend to share their bad experiences online, especially in groups on social media? Well, this topic led to the post you’re about to read. A friend of mine read some really negative stuff about immigration on Facebook and I told her not to believe everything she read online. People love […]

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Trains & Tulips in Grugapark

Towards the end of April, we visited Grugapark one day. We found ourselves suddenly alone after our fabulous vacation, and needed some TLC. Hence, the visit to the park. We’ve been to Gruga a few times before, but we’d never seen it covered in tulips. Being nature-folk, you can imagine how much we enjoyed this […]

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Ice Cold

Last week, I bombarded you with images of snow. This week, it’s ice. You see a theme here? This winter has been more than a smidge colder than last, but the weather brings many new experiences for those of us originally from warmer parts. So, ice. We live close to the River Ruhr, but we […]

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Kindergarten Fun (TGC)

Yes, this is a German Chronicles post on a Friday. My week has been kind of topsy-turvy. For the first time in a long time, I have a FAQ that I want to answer. Why isn’t Kayla in a preschool/nursery school/kindergarten? The short answer is because Germany. I’m guessing that’s not what you want, though.

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Neuschwanstein Trip

We’ve been ogling this castle for a looooong time. You know how I feel about castles to begin with, but this one was kind of special, and not just because it’s the template for the Disney castle. Imagine this place, with its majestic spires and pristine white bricks, keeping its vigil on the side of a […]

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Munich Zoo

Hello, all you lovely folks. Hope you had a good weekend. As I mentioned on Friday, our trip to Munich ended in a zoo, because of a three-year-old’s heartfelt request. For this reason, we braved the cold, ignored the patches of snow on the ground, and went to see some animals. The highlight of the […]

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Sightseeing in Pöking and Munich

I mentioned on Wednesday that our journey to Munich began on a rainy Sunday morning. We’ve never been to any other German state, so this was a big trip for us, especially considering how much we wanted to see Bavaria. We’ve been told on many occasions, by both Germans and non-Germans, how incredibly different Bavaria […]

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Surviving German Christmas Markets

So, the time of year is officially here, as I mentioned the other day. Today I want to talk about the markets in depth, and maybe give some advice to first-time market-goers, because this stuff can be a little overwhelming. The markets are a pretty amazing part of the German Christmas experience, even if you […]

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South Africanisms

We seldom think about our unique English dialect. Or at least, we didn’t think much about how we spoke in the past. Then we moved to Germany. It was first brought to my attention that we have a quirky way of speaking, due to the word shame. Of course I’d known that South Africans say […]

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Learning German

I’ve mentioned many times in my recent posts that I’m being tutored in German now. Everybody wants to know how that’s going. Well, it’s crawling. I can speak rudimentary German and I can understand the basics, as long as the speaker speaks slowly. Learning any new language is difficult, especially as one gets older. Ha. […]

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Oktoberfest Facts

Yes, folks, it’s officially that time of year. Oktoberfest is in full swing and ends on Sunday. Now, I’m not a beer drinker, but I would love to go over to Bavaria and experience this festival at least once. Until then, I’ll write about it. Going on with the theme from last week’s post, here […]

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Visit to Kaiser Park

So, Oberhausen has a schloss (this word can be used to describe anything from a castle to a manor house – in this case, it’s a manor house) and a park, but we’ve been putting off going there. First of all, the schloss is not that impressive (in our opinions) and we had no idea that […]

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Germany – Things I Don’t Understand

As you can imagine, culture shock is a massive thing when you move to another country. Germany is no exception. In fact, some of the stuff that we see here is completely unique to Germany, like the German toilet. Yes, you read that right. Today I want to talk about some of these weird-ass things, […]

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My WIP – Forests and Food

Welcome back! I said this last week somewhere and I’ll say it again – I feel as if a train ran over my head, realised it was on the wrong course and then reversed. I’ve been unable to stay fully awake at any given time for about 8 days solid. Hello, Monday. This weekend was […]

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TGC – A Year

It’s difficult to believe, while it feels much longer at the same time. We’ve finally passed the year mark. I’ve been turning this post around in my head for weeks now, but I still don’t really know what to say. I’m late in posting as it is. 🙂 Tomorrow we’re already at a year and […]

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Castle Hopping – Part Two

This second instalment of castle hopping reached over two countries. So exciting. 🙂 You can see day one here, if you haven’t yet. Maastricht in the Netherlands was our first destination. This is a pretty amazing place, with cobbled streets and beautiful old buildings. You must be getting tired of the words ‘cobbled streets’ and […]

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There and Back Again

I totally just used a Tolkien plug. For some reason, this post intimidates me, so I’ve been putting off writing it. I can’t explain why, I only know that every time I sit down to type this, I feel the need to run. Let’s see if I can get through it today. (At the time […]

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Schloss Styrum Aquarium

Since discovering Schloss Styrum, it’s been one of our favourite hangout spots. And of course we had to go see the little aquarium they have there, especially considering we have a kid who is CRAZY about fish. This little aquarium is open on Sundays and is free to view. So obviously, we’ve been there twice. […]

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Visit to Duisburg Zoo

On a sunny Thursday, we took Kayla to the zoo. Duisburg zoo is one of the biggest zoos in Germany and it has a pretty cool dolphinarium and Koala enclosure. Check out the Wiki page for more. It’s much different from zoos in South Africa, but it was still a pretty cool experience. In SA, […]

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Japan Day (and other stuff) – WIP

Japan Day is a big thing in Düsseldorf every year. Massive crowds of people dressed as their favourite anime / manga characters (or even some characters that don’t fall into that category), good food, fireworks and a lot of fun is to be expected. It’s a highlight on the calendar! But then, going out to […]

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Visit to Werden

On Ascension Day, we hopped a train to Werden. This picturesque place is a suburb of Essen and is seriously gorgeous. The buildings are still in the old style and there’s almost a fantasy-type vibe to the old taverns turned cafés. Walking through those cobblestone ways certainly piqued my creative flow. Then, there’s the parks […]

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A Visit to Schloss Styrum – TGC

We’ve been living in Germany for seven months. Can you believe that? It’s been interesting. We’ve been adapting. There are still better days and worse days, but overall, we’re finding our feet. Jan is starting with German classes soon, and our landlady has undertaken to teach me too. Once he learns, I’m sure my own […]

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My Weekend In Pictures – Carnival in Düsseldorf

This weekend was a sunny one. After the rainiest two months of my life, we’ve been extra thankful for every ray of sunlight coming our way. Hopefully, that statement didn’t jinx it… Anyway, all of the sunshine means a lot of outdoors activities, even if it’s still chilly out. This weekend, we went walking a […]

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Tips to Help You Adapt After Immigration – Part Two

Yesterday, we chatted about things you could do to make the immigration process easier before you actually get on the plane. Today, we’re going to chat about things you can do to adapt more seamlessly once you get there. This is obviously going to be different for every person, but these are the things that […]

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Tips to Help You Adapt After Immigration – Part One

Can you fathom this: Jan’s officially been in Germany for 6 months, and Kayla and I will have made the 6-month mark on the 25th of Feb. Mind. Blown. I bet I’ll say this with every milestone, but I can’t comprehend that it’s been ONLY six months. It feels like we’ve been here forever. Obviously, the people in […]

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First Snow

Coming from Johannesburg, I’ve mentioned before that I haven’t seen real snow before in my life. Sure, there were two occasions, but I’ve never seen enough of it to cover the ground. This is why moving to Europe had me hopeful for some snow this winter. Of course, it doesn’t really snow in our part of Germany. […]

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Random Vacation Photos

This post is to show you all of the vacation photos that didn’t make it into other blog posts. Because if you know my family at all, you’ll know that very little is ever done without cellphones or cameras in the air, clicking away. Pictures or it didn’t happen, right? So here are some of […]

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New Year in Germany

We used to live in a country where fireworks are illegal. So imagine our surprise when we first saw different kinds of fireworks for sale in basically any shop you can imagine in Germany. Here, it’s a massive tradition to shoot fireworks on New Year’s eve (more than anywhere else I’ve ever heard of). The […]

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Five Months – The German Chronicles

Yesterday, I hit the five-month mark in Germany. It feels as if I’ve lived here years already. I spoke to some friends and family about it yesterday, and they all feel the same way. It doesn’t make sense, you know. It hasn’t even been half a year, but it doesn’t FEEL that way. We’ve seen […]

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Vacation Day-by-Day : Schloss Burg

Everybody who knows me is aware of my absolute fascination and obsession with castles. There is something mystical and magical about castles and the age they were constructed in.  I often find myself at the base of one of these structures and I wonder how it’s even possible that they exist. How did those people […]

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Vacation Day-by-Day : Amsterdam

While my folks were here, we spent a day in Amsterdam. The last time I was there, the place absolutely stole my heart. I mean, it’s not only beautiful, but the people were incredibly warm towards us and understood when we spoke Afrikaans. I loved the sights there. This time was no different. I still […]

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Vacation Day-by-Day : Aachen

Aachen is a beautiful town in Germany on the border with Belgium. It’s one of those typical European places, with the most beautiful building style and cobbled streets. The Aachener Dom is a picturesque cathedral, though not nearly as magnificent as the Cologne Cathedral. It’s still pretty though. It was being renovated on our visit, so […]

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Vacation Day-by-Day : Cologne Cathedral

Am I addicted to great architecture and lead-glass installations? Why, yes, I sure am. That statement means cathedral and church-hopping is on my A-list of things to do and sights to see. The Cologne Cathedral (Or Kölner Dom, as the Germans call it) is AH-MAZE-ING. It is, without any trace of a doubt, the biggest structure I […]

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Three Months – The German Chronicles

It’s probably about time I give you an update on how things have been here in Germany. It’s been almost three months now (we’ll reach the official 3 mark month on the 25th of November) and a lot has happened in that time. First of all, we’re going to stay in the furnished short-term rental […]

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Sightseeing in Gruga Park (TGC)

So, last weekend, my Weekend In Pictures post got away from me. Sorry about that. I mentioned last week that some stuff exploded in my face and the greater part of the week was spent fixing that. As a result, I was revising my novel, trying to get it as ready as I can before it […]

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TGC – Why we Decided to Immigrate

This wasn’t some overnight, half-baked scheme. Oh no. Years went into this endeavour of ours. Years. You see, my brother in law left South Africa in the year Jan and I got married (2008). He quit his job and set out to London a month later, just following his gut. I’ve always admired him for […]

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What’s Different? (TGC)

The question I get asked most at the moment is “How different is living in Germany from living in South Africa?” The answer is, it’s different. But seeing as so many people don’t like the vagueness of that statement, I thought I’d quickly highlight the basics. Or at least the things that stand out to […]

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My First Week in Germany! (TGC)

Wow. Here we are, aren’t we? Last week this time, I was getting ready to get on a plane. I was a bundle of nerves mixed with insane excitement. Since then, a lot of people have asked how we are and if we’re adapting. The answer is good and yes. But I’ll get there. The flight […]

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Here we go… (TGC)

It’s weird, this feeling. I’m leaving home. Sights and smells will always be imprinted in my mind; the way I feel today. It’s a big day, after all. I’m leaving home. I barely slept last night, because a haze of excitement, bitter-sweet goodbyes and anxiety whirled in my head. And here it is. D-Day, so […]

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Update Version 2.0 (The German Chronicles)

This was the post I typed for you yesterday : “I’m still in South Africa. That’s all I have to say about that. I’ve been quiet, I know. Currently, I’m in limbo. Being a creative kind of person means that life events have a profound impact on my mood. I know that life events impact […]

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The German Chronicles – an Update

I’ve been without a computer for a while now and I’ve barely switched on my laptop. It’s been so hectic here that I’ve only visited social media sites maybe three times in the last week and a half. I would say I’m sorry, but I haven’t had time to be sorry since we moved into […]

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The German Chronicles – What’s it Like?

People want to know how I feel and what I think at the moment. As in “Is it difficult to pack up and leave?” or “What’s going through your mind?” or “Aren’t you sentimental about the stuff you’re leaving behind?” One I get a lot is “I’m too attached to my family to leave them […]

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The German Chronicles : Our Experience with the German Embassy

If you didn’t pick up on it in the title, I’m going to call the posts relating to our move to Germany ‘The German Chronicles’. Hope you like it. 🙂 Obviously, one of the first things you do when you go to a new country is to get a visa. Or not, depending on what […]

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I’ve Been Keeping Secrets…

I’ve been hinting at the fact that my life is about to change drastically. No, scratch that. Not hinting, telling you right out. 🙂 Today I can finally let you know what’s happening, and it’s not what you think. No, I’m not pregnant. My husband was offered a position in Germany and he accepted it. […]

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