Tag Archives: moving

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Life, the Universe, And Everything (or How to Lose 300 lbs)

In the past six months a lot of things have changed. Life, the universe, and everything. At least, in our corner of the universe. In fact this is more about the second move and change I had in six months. I did, in fact, lose 300 pounds in a month. Sometimes I look back at the stuff I left behind and I’m relieved. Sometimes I not.

We originally planned on moving to Italy. Then we decided to move to Costa Rica. We got certified, tried to get jobs, and decided to move to Prague. We moved to Prague, got jobs, moved into a flat, and now are beginning our new adventure in Europe.

That being said its been a curious six months. Last April I was in the midst of planning on getting rid of almost everything while working overnights at a department store. And we had begun to prepare mentally to move to Costa Rica for a long while. That meant a plethora of shorts and flip flops. I began to go through everything. Giving away tons of things and selling a few things, and basically reducing our stuff by 90%. That’s a lot of stuff. So much stuff. So little time.

It happened slowly. Week after week.

Hubby didn’t think I could get ‘er done but I did. The fun part started when thepacking began. We had eight checked bags that needed to weigh under 50 lbs each. Sounds easy right? It wasn’t. But it was. All I had to do was make very hard decisions very fast. No problem.

Actually I’m fairly certain I might have started to lose my mind somewhere in the middle of it all. There were things I needed to take, had to take, and wanted to take. And there are things that got packed away in storage that I couldn’t part with like heirlooms, Legos, and books, etc. The pressure to get it right was immense.

I wanted to be prepared. So I bought tubes and tubes of sunscreen, bottles and bottles of bug repellent, quick dry towels, and rain jackets. I packed shorts and bought flip flops.  I brought kitchen stuff and bedding. A few things to make our new home in a new country feel like home. Not to mention home school supplies and books. I didn’t want to be in need of anything for a while. I even bought extra toothpaste and tooth brushes. I had it all planned out.

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Then we decided to move to Europe. And our airline had planned to make my last month in Costa Rica the most interesting and stressful. I needed to lose 300 lbs in three weeks.

Yes, 300 pounds. I needed to lose 300 pounds of stuff. This meant all the extras. Pillows, blankets, and sheets. Books, school supplies, bug spray, and sunscreen. Kitchen supplies and random things that would bring our eight bags to four bags. And 400 pounds down to 196. I got rid of a lot. Some of which was easy and some things I still miss ( a little). I know I’ll be provided for and that things are just things. Things can be replaced. So I decided to grab life by the horns and get rid of almost everything I didn’t feel sad I felt encouraged.

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The biggest issue with moving to Prague in the fall was our clothing. Or lack thereof. The weather had changed and we went from shorts and flip flops in 32° to pants and jackets in 12°. It was a bit of a shock to the system. We bought coats and dressed in layers and mossied on. Our bodies adjusted to both the time difference and the weather and we got down business.
In the first week we secured jobs and began our house hunt.

Finding an apartment was not a simple venture. We’d started in Costa Rica but we’re advised to wait until we arrived and actually saw the apartment before handing over any money. Plus we didn’t really want to pay for an agent. This would cost us extra money we didn’t want to spend.

In the end, after many inquiries and quite a bit looking we found a place. It’s not quite where we’d like to (a.k.a. closer to work). It’s quite an adorable place. It’s mostly furnished and close to transit.

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So we’re are enjoying our new flat and our new life in Prague.

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You Will Be Assimilated (or Acclimating to Life in Prague)

“You will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.” Borg, Star Trek universe.
I know my geek is showing. My point is that when moving to a new country it’s important to breath in that culture and not stick out lIke a sore thumb and not act too American. The key is acclimating to life in Prague. Granted,

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if we were purely missionaries going to a land of cannibalistic hedonists we would not try to blend. But as English teachers in Prague looking less like tourists and more like Czechs has its advantages. First though you have to research and observe the differences in dress and mannerisms and begin to acclimate to your new home.
Here’s a list of things I’ve learned and observed in my first few weeks in Prague.

1. Take off your shoes. When entering someone’s home take off your shoes. It’s polite and a good custom as far as I’m concerned. Taking off your shoes keeps the floors cleaner. Most Czechs take pride and great care of their homes. They also don’t need the extra work of cleaning up after dirty feet. When slippers are provided please wear them. That’s why they are there.

2. Boots. It’s autumn and chilly. It’s time to start bundling up and wear your boots. Lovely boots with pants or with skirts. Most are reasonably heeled because of the cobbled streets. Good and sturdy but nice boots. A true necessity in Prague therefore I’ll need to get a pair.

3. Scarves. Scarves are huge here. Literally. Czech love huge scarves. I can see why with damp chilly mornings and evenings. While waiting for the metro or the bus a scarf makes a huge difference in keeping warm. I am looking forward to knitting a great big scarf or three. Until then I’ll make do with make smaller lighter versions that I brought with me.

4. Layers. As in Colorado layering your clothing is necessary. Mornings are chilly but it warms up quite nicely in the afternoon. Being able to bundle up and to remove layers when necessary is just the way to deal with the changing temps.

5. Coaster. When heading to a bar, pub, or restaurant and needing a beer place a coaster in front of you. Sometimes a beer will appear but most often it tells the waiter that you are ordering beer and they ask pilsner or dark or some such defining question. This is Czech custom and utilizing it makes you less touristy.

6. Tipping. To tip like a native you don’t really tip. You round up. If the bill is 713 Kc leave 800. Wait staff make a regular income and don’t  rely on tips like in the States. Hand them your money, say 1000, and ask for the amount you want back, say 200.

7. Read. On the train. On the bus. While waiting. Czechs love to read. This will be difficult for me because I get a bit nauseous if I try to read while moving. I’m sure I can manage to read while waiting though.

8. Quiet. Buses and metros are mostly quiet. Kids and babies make a normal amount of noise. But people in general are reading, listening to music with earbuds, texting, or talking quietly. It’s rather subdued and polite even when crowded at rush hour.

9. Quick. The speed of Prague is taking some getting used to. After 100 days if Pura Vida and the laid back pace of Costa Rica, Prague is quick. Always walking quickly to the bus or the metro or to work or to lunch. As far as I can tell Czechs are timely. A big change from our first 100 days abroad.

10. Survival Czech. Getting the lingo down for Costa Rica was easy. I’d been exposed to Spanish for years. Czech is different. So far I’ve got dobry den (hello) down. I think it’s highly important to learn key phrases when in country. Greetings and basic courtesies to start and learning the streets and metro stops. Being able to order food and drink and go grocery shopping in Czech are basic necessities.

If you try to look less like a  tourist and blend just a little you’ll go far to becoming part of your new world.

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The Chase Is On

The chase is on…chasing Italy is moving from central America to central Europe. We’ve decided to move up our plans to Europe. Originally we thought that we’d spend a year or two in Costa Rica. Learning Spanish, teaching English, exploring near and far. We’d had plans for Nicaragua and eventually Panama. You know what happens when you make plans. They are subject to variables sometimes out of your control. We are trusting that although we had a plan, this is what we are supposed to be doing. Moving to Prague.

Moving to Prague. Why Prague and not Italy? Well it’s all about the jobs and the cost of living. Currently we both need to work and we have plans to write more for the blog and otherwise. We just need a place to halfway settle in. Moving every month isn’t good for the kids or us. A little stability goes a long way. Prague looks like it will be the place. More jobs and affordable housing. What more could you ask for… how about history, architecture, and culture. Prague has it.

So our hope that we’ll both find jobs in Prague. That these jobs don’t take up all our time and we’ll get see Prague and other places with kids. We’ll take lots of pictures and write about our adventures. And hopefully we’ll get  to Italy sooner vs later.

Prague is an awesome place to start our European adventure. Historically and architecturally intact through World War II. It’s centrally located to lots of other countries we want to visit. Germany and Italy are just a train ride away. Not to mention the rest of Europe. Our kids really want to visit the UK and my understanding is that flights to and from can be highly affordable. So that could happen.

The chase is definitely on. We are indeed chasing Italy and meanwhile we are enjoying the adventure.

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It’s My Spot (or Finding Your Place in the World)

It’s my spot. It’s where all things come together and you feel at home. Most people don’t search for home. It’s where you grew up or where you’ve spent most of your life. When you’re a dependent of military personnel, the question of where you’re from is a difficult one to answer. In my case I often have a multifaceted answer. I say I grew up on the east coast. Meaning most of my early life was in Maryland and Virginia. After college I moved to Colorado, although I wanted to moved to Washington – but that’s another story. In Colorado, I met my wonderful husband and had my boys.

But our journey was just beginning. In our seventeen years together we’ve moved a dozen times (I’m rounding down), a least three states and we’ve been to few countries separately and now Costa Rica together with the kids.

We’ve always had a huge sense of wanderlust. We’ve talked and talked for years about living abroad and seeing more of this great big world. Now we are doing what we’ve always talked and dreamed about. The kids aren’t thrilled about it, but they’ll adapt or not. They are teenagers and grumble over almost everything. We want to give them an experience greater than themselves.

Have we found our spot? Are we home in Costa Rica? Time will tell. The greatest gift our upbringing has given us is the ability to adapt and take chances. We are not afraid of trying something new or going somewhere we’ve never been before. Costa Rica has been good to us. Very welcoming people and its an easy country to love. Beautiful sunsets, awesome beaches, and tons of wildlife. If you’re a adventurer or photographer or just need a good rest then Costa Rica is an awesome place to be.

Our next adventure is always on the horizon. For us, ‘It’s my spot’ can be found almost anywhere. We adapt to our circumstances and make the best of things and sometimes we move on to the next thing.

Update: We’re taking the leap and moving to the Czech Republic. Yep, Prague. Currently interviewimg for teaching jobs and looking for housing. Are we closer to finding our spot? We’ll see.

Have you found your spot? Where is it? Comment below.
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Things to Do in Colorado

I have lived in Colorado off and on for nearly twenty years. And yet I’ve not skied in Colorado (Kurt has in Colorado and Italy, lucky guy) or done all the things you do in Colorado. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, I’ve been to a handful of places like Rocky Mountain National Park, Garden of the Gods, Red Rocks, Chautauqua and Roxborough parks, and Guanella Pass. We’ve been to the botanical gardens, Butterfly Pavilion, both zoos, and the aquarium. We’ve definitely done stuff. But there are a few things we would really like to see and experience before we leave the country. And my youngest son has made a list. The list includes Rocky Mountain National Park, Mesa Verde, Sand Dunes, Royal Gorge, Botanical Gardens, Manitou cliff dwellings and Garden of the Gods.

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Garden of the Gods, Rocky Mountain National Park and Roxborough Park. These are places we’ve been before but the boys don’t remember or really want to see again. It’s been years and they haven’t changed but are amazing and a must to see if ever in Colorado.

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Manitou Cliff dwellings, Royal Gorge, Mesa Verde, Four Corners and the Sand Dunes are among the places we like to visit before our departure. These are classically Colorado sights that Kurt hasn’t been to in decades and my boys and I have never seen. Great places to take pictures and have a little adventure.

Outside of Colorado are two places we’d like to squeeze in over a long weekend. Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone National Park. My son would like to see buffalo in their natural habitat. That being said Yellowstone is pretty cool with Old Faithful and all. I was there as a kid and still remember how spectacular the geysers were and how amazing the buffalo and moose were to see roaming around.

So I’m beginning to prepare for our life outside of these United States and planning a few fun things to do before we get out of dodge. So over the next several weeks we’ll be going places and taking lots of pictures. Get out there and do something because it’s a big world.

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One Small Step

One small step for man….

Today we made our first concrete steps (beyond just talking and planning) towards our move abroad to Italy.  So it was a milestone day in that respect.  First, we contacted a couple of TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) schools in Milan.  We also got our passport photos taken and filled out the passport renewal forms.  They are small steps, but it feels good to make some tangible progress.

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