Seasons of Life

The Army has taught me a lot of things over the years but one thing you never get used to is moving. It’s honestly not even the packing everything you own and starting over in a new place that is hard. It’s the friendships and family that you make along the way and have to leave behind.

We would have loved to stay in one spot and have the same group of friends for years to come and maybe someday eventually that will happen. For now though, it’s really hard making such incredible friends and saying goodbye so quickly. I like to say you make friends hard and fast by moving so much.

A part of you is tempted not to invest so much of your life and time in people along the way. Then you’ll meet the most hilarious, giving, selfless people that make you love them. Making these incredible friendships always leads to heartbreak when you have to move away.

I’ve learned to thank God when this happens because life would be so boring without them. These friendships help us grow and even if we just had you for a season of life, we are thankful. We are better people because of you. We love you guys! 😭❤️😭

Love,

Jenny

Photo by: Jodi Bodtke, @givingtreephotography

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Thanksgiving, Friendship+Skiing the Alps

I met Erin in 2012 while we were learning all about ARDS, CKD, MODS, sepsis, “The Sugas” and may other intensive care things we were cramming into our brains at the time. She was the quiet, (almost) front row sitter and I was the notorious back row sitter that talked far too much. #somethingsneverchange

A few months later, we finished the ICU course, packed our things and moved away. I moved to Georgia and she moved to south Texas. Never in a million years did I think the first time I walked into my new job in Germany in 2015… that Erin would be the one sitting behind the desk in the ICU.

Since then we have been cracking jokes and keeping each other entertained when we go “camping.” She’s always been my right sided bunk mate and my ICU bestie. She makes me laugh just as much as Dan does. She’s so selfless and gives more than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s the friend that buys tickets or covers dinner for the entire group… then proceeds to try and convince you she owes you money. 😂 But I’m on to her! She can’t trick me.

Of all our adventures this one was by far my favorite. There’s something so soothing about being in the middle of God’s gorgeous handiwork cruising through the soft, fresh snow. These are my favorite moments while traveling because you realize the world is so much bigger than yourself and your life. Who you choose to surround yourself with says a lot about you. I’m so very lucky to have a friend like Erin. You make the world a better place. So this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for you and your friendship ❤️.

We drove to Austria, spent hours skiing the Stubai Glacier and laughing. Honestly, it was the best Thanksgiving ever. Thank you Erin. You’ll always be family to me.

Love,

Jenny

Ps. We stopped for coffee on the drive home. When I asked for a cappuccino, The nice gentleman said “Klein cappuccino?” (Small cappuccino). Erin just started cracking up laughing. He smiled, laughed and said ahhh #thosekindofpeople … cappuccino gross (large) it is.

We might have taken the wrong bus down the mountain … but no worries we are excellent in makeshift sign language and guessing at translating foreign languages. Luckily at the bus stop there was an ATM and a step stool for the shorties.

We ventured into Innsbruck for our first Christmas Market of the year. Most of the vendors were closed because of the rain but there was plenty of food and glühwein.

Our views on the way home we’re nothing short of stunning.

As always another cappuccino 💗 Austria you are a breathtakingly beautiful place.

Malta: When the Waters Rise

We had a long weekend of salt water and sangria on the beach. One of my very best friends from college, Sarah and her hubby Caleb flew across the world to see us… and I’m gonna apologize now (because it’s taken far too long to post these) #betterlatethannever.  Good thing she’ll love me anyway 😉 but seriously what an incredible trip.

Crystal clear salt water, beautiful views and sunshine are just a few of the amazing things about Malta. Although, sometimes it’s not the scenery that makes you happy. It’s the company you share it with.

We explored Malta with two of our favorite couples. We went hiking together, drank sangria together and got seasick together. Ok, so it was just Krissy and I getting sea sick. Honestly, it was worth it for those gorgeous Blue Lagoon views. It was refreshing visiting a place with English as it’s primary language. The driving is pretty crazy so I would recommend just taking shuttles or taxis.

In hindsight, I wish I would have packed my Dramamine the day we went on the pirate ship to the blue lagoon… but we can’t always be on our A game, Right?!? Anyways. These are my people. I love them so much.

Love,

Jenny

 

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When I’m standing on the edge of the world, I want to be standing next to you.

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Windmills, Waffles+Rainy Days

After an 8 hour layover in Germany, we finally made it to Amsterdam. We grabbed the rental agreement and headed to pick up the car. I told the guy we rented a convertible and he looked extremely dismayed.

Then I laughed. He said “whewwww you were kidding,” and laughed with me. Apparently the lady at the check out had mixed up someone with a convertible recently 🤷🏼‍♀️😂oops! I think I was just as shocked when we got into our rental. Dan is extremely frugal with travel (opposites attract right?!?). He used to rent with companies that have hidden fees and other problems we won’t mention. Anyways… when I asked him sweetly to book our rental car for us he picked Enterprise and I’m so thankful he did! They gave us this gorgeous Audi. I kept saying, “This drives like a dream.” All up until we went to park in the Radisson Blu parking garage. I couldn’t for the life of me get the car into reverse. 🤔

Naturally we spent 10 minutes figuring it out and then Sarah googled it. Apparently you have to push the stick shift vertically toward the ground prior to shifting. That’s a new one for me. Dan laughed at me as we told him our dilemma. What wasn’t so funny…. was the parking fees at the Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam Airport. Parking is free for the first two hours, then 3 Euro an hour after that for a max of 25 Euro per day.

Now I’m not a genius at math but it’s pretty simple to see you’re pretty much gonna pay the max parking fee if you park overnight. Good thing Dan wasn’t here or he would’ve moved the car every 3 hours 😂. I’m sure the hotel staff could see the irritation and stress on our faces and gave us coups for free wine.

The next day we got up at 730 and started our Amsterdam adventure. We stopped first at the I Amsterdam sign and ate waffles for breakfast near the Van Gosh museum. Right after waffles it started down pouring as we walked back toward the car. Make sure you pay for street parking in Amsterdam because they track you+ticket you based on your license plate.

We drove out of the city to see the windmills. When we arrived, Sarah wanted to see the windmills and I wanted to see the shoes of course. We compromised somewhere in the middle. It turned out to be a beautiful, relaxing afternoon.

We ventured back into the city to explore. Daniel and I have driven in a lot of cities worldwide. Driving in Paris with 9 way intersections was the only city that comes to mind in comparison to how stressed I was driving here. Picture this: Sitting at a red light… you have 200 people on bikes weaving in and out of traffic, mopeds zipping next to you… AND a street tram that was lets say 4 inches from the rental car. In addition, to say that the bike riders in Amsterdam are aggressive… is an understatement. Just be careful, if you’re driving anywhere near the Anne Frank house. #praisethelord we didn’t scratch the rental! We ended our trip with some sweet goodbye cocktails and cider.

Caleb… go ahead and pack the kids up to move here. The waffles will be worth it 😉. Sarah will be waiting for you at this large red rubik’s cube in the airport! ❤️

Love,

Jenny



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Sarah took this gorgeous pic!

Ps. Friendship this good, lasts for decades. Next time I’ll see you it’ll be in America to squeeze all those adorable kiddos. 🇺🇸❤️👦🏼👧🏻👧🏼

And when it gets hot…Iced coffee 💕

Ireland: The Ring of Kerry

Raise your hand if you’re habitually late to everything in life (except work)….. you are the ones that understand my struggles. However, I want to preface this story by saying this time…it was not my fault. I was working night shift the day before we were supposed to leave for Ireland. My hilarious, beautiful and also chronically late to everything friend Abby was supposed to be our designated responsible person for getting us to the airport. Let’s just say we left quite a bit behind schedule. 🙂

Luckily we were flying from a small airport and the security lines were pretty short. We breezed through security and made it to our gate with approximately 11 minutes to spare. Now if I had my husband with me he would have had a heart attack. Abby on the other hand just laughed and said, “See…. we still have time for coffee!” I love that about her. She is carefree and fun to travel with. We were also meeting a mutual friend Marcie, her family and friend Vera. Marcie is our “on time” friend and had been sitting comfortably in a chair close to the gate for quite some time. She also planned and organized the trip so all we had to do was book our flights. HOW easy! This made it a very relaxed weekend away. Marcie is always game for adventure, which is why I enjoy her company so much! Abby and I laughed as we watched her singing along with her headphones while waiting for the gate to open. Despite being early (or late) we all made it and boarded the plane.

When we arrived in Ireland we picked up our rental cars. FYI you have to pay extra for insurance that covers you in Ireland. If you have ever driven the curvy back roads of Ireland on the edges of cliffs, you’ll understand why. They also drive on the left-hand side of the road. Abby was amazing and picked up the left vs. right-sided driving really easily (and we didn’t have to use the expensive insurance we paid for). We rented a house via Airbnb. It was in the hills near the Ring of Kerry. On our way to the house, we stopped in Killarney a beautiful little town with a massive church. There was an outdoor wedding at the church the day we arrived and it was gorgeous. We shopped at a few stores in town including a little Irish jewelry store. The jeweler told us all about the Irish Claddagh rings. They contain hands, a heart, and a crown. She also explained how they represent love, loyalty, and friendship. Married men and women wear the heart facing toward themselves and the opposite if you’re single. We left the store and had lunch at a cafe across the street.

The next few days we spent driving around the Ring of Kerry. We had lunch at a country club that let us pour our own Guinness. After lunch, we continued our journey around the ring. We stopped at a few beaches and listened to the waves of the North Atlantic come crashing in. This was such a peaceful place. It was even more enjoyable because none of us were in a hurry to leave.

One of my favorite places we visited were the cliffs just north of the Ring of Kerry. I love seeing places like that, off the beaten path. You can travel the world and see all of the popular places the majority of people see or you can just enjoy the experiences you run into along the way. This trip was one of my favorite trips so far because we did exactly that.

We visited the Killarney National park and took a carriage ride around the grounds. Most of the rest of that day we spent at the beach sitting on massive rocks and soaking up the sunshine.

On our last day, we stopped in Killarney again! This time to purchase crystal wine glasses we saw on the first day. We also had some of the BEST waffles I’ve had yet (I thought they were better than the ones I’ve tried in Belgium). I’d be lying if I said I only had one.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Guinness prior to this trip but I loved it in Ireland. I encourage you to try it if you ever visit. Cheers my friends to another country, another adventure and to Abby for driving on the wrong side of the road!

Love,

Jenny

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Ps. I loved the Cappuccinos at Noelle’s.

The Culinary Beer Hike: Landstuhl, Germany

It started out as a typical fall day in Germany. Cold+Grey skies+Rain. We didn’t let that stop us. We bundled up with scarves and warm socks, put on our rain boots and hit the trails. 

The beer hike started at the Berg Nanstein castle. We bought tickets for 8 Euro each, which included our glass and discounts on all of our beers along the way. 

We grabbed a beer for the hike and started walking. At the second stop we ate smoked BBQ pulled pork and fresh German bread. We refilled our beers and we were on our way again. 

At another stop we tasted the smoked salmon, grabbed a cappuccino (Espresso is always necessary) and dessert. It was some sort of delicious cherry coffee cake. AH-may-ZING!!! Thankfully my friends didn’t give me the option and I had to share…because believe me, I would’ve eaten the whole thing ;). We even had a group skype sesh with friends back home at this stop. 

We kept walking and it kept raining. Overall we had a wonderful time and thanks to my hunters and my umbrella, I stayed completely dry. I definitely learned something from our Norway trip! Waterproof is the way to go 😉 

In Germany, every activity includes beer. Prost! 

Love,

Jenny

It rained and rained and rained…

These two jokers never quit!

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Burg Lichtenberg: The not so dirty Thirty!

As each year passes we get the opportunity to celebrate life. If you’re going to live in Europe you might as well celebrate your birthday in a castle, like a true princess! Krissy moved here last year and quickly became one of my closest friends (and neighbors) in Germany. We were delighted to help her celebrate another successful year of living life to the fullest. We booked reservations at this beautiful old castle that was built around the year 1200 (ish). It has a beautiful restaurant that overlooks the lush green hills of Germany, including a herd of cows grazing on the hill next to it.


The food was delicious and we enjoyed various ice cream desserts afterwards. It was pretty dark when we left so we didn’t get a chance to tour the castle. After we got all the way home and I realized I left my favorite aviator sunglasses on the table. Luckily most German people are incredibly honest and when I called the restaurant they said “Of course we will hold them for you.”


I went back to get my sunnies today with the intention of picking them up and leaving. However, it was such a beautiful sunny day, I couldn’t resist walking around the huge castle ruins. I hope you enjoy a few snaps of this beautiful historical place.


We are very lucky to live in Deutschland, the land of the castles. So we are starting a new tradition of celebrating birthdays in castles because sometimes…life really is a real time fairytale.

Love,

Jenny

Philly, Family and Delicious Cheesesteaks

It started with an impromptu first class seat from Chicago, IL to Philadelphia, PA. I decided to run to the restroom prior to catching our flight. In my absence my fiancé Dan volunteered us for what he thought were exit row seats. Surprisingly, as we boarded the plane we realized the flight attendant bumped us to first class. These are the moments when I realize that being kind to others really does matter. Dan is quite the comedian and I imagine these seats had something to do with how kind, funny and charming he can be :). Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the warmed nuts and hot chocolate chip cookies in first class. We landed around midnight and rushed to grab our rental car and headed to what he calls home.

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It was a relatively short drive (<2 hours) North of Philly to his family. We proceeded to fall into bed exhausted around 2:30 am and slept for a few hours. The next few days we spent catching up and playing with Melina and Maddie.


We met them at school for lunch and took them out for Melina’s birthday. We really enjoyed playing softball and seeing Melina pitch (pretty awesome for a 9 year old!). Maddie  did a great job fielding the ball and we gave her a lot of hitting practice. It was a perfect spring day and even Mickey (their dog) raced after the ball with us.


We went to see Dan’s sister in law Megan and his niece Adriana while we were home. We spent the afternoon with them at the park and enjoyed playing ball and “blazing badminton” as Adriana calls it. She has such a lively and hilarious personality. She is such an active kid and kept us running while playing ball. She was so sweet and even picked us some beautiful flowers (or colorful weeds depending on who you ask :). You can tell Dan definitely misses her!

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After chasing her around the play ground we went to have dinner with Dan’s close friends John and Megan. Dan and John caught up on life while Megan and I hit it off. We had so much in common and it was so nice to finally meet her in person. We celebrated both of our engagements with copious amounts of homemade wine. I can’t wait to go back and try next years batch of wine 😉.We laughed more than we talked and also tried their amazing signature cocktails…something along the lines of champagne, grapefruit liquor and blood orange juice.

We spent our last night in America in downtown Philadelphia with some old friends of Dan’s. We stayed with Jimmy and Sara in their gorgeous home in Philly. We had a blast out that night. We literally ran in heels to catch the train to dinner and danced until we were exhausted. Surprisingly, this was the only picture we took that night. 

The next morning we said goodbye to Jimmy and Sara with cinnamon rolls and warm hugs. We were really sad to leave. Luckily we will see them in a few short months in Paris! On our way to the airport we snapped a quick picture in their neighborhood with these beautiful cherry blossoms.

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As we flew back to the land of the castles with our bellies full (of Chick fil A) we were excited about returning home in a few years. Hopefully we will be moving somewhere closer to our families and good friends!

When in Philly…Don’t forget to grab a cheesesteak!

Love,

Jenny


These two are inseparable, the snuggle is real.

 

Kindness Matters: Falls Church, Virginia

A Day of Pampering:

Warm, cosy and well rested is how I started my day. What an unusual feeling that was…until I realized I didn’t set my alarm and I had a nail appointment in an hour and 15 mins. Don’t mind my stomach that was growling out of control.

I jumped out of bed, tossed on a comfortable outfit and debated on what shoes to wear. My go-to pair of shoes lately has been leather booties that I bought in Germany. With just enough heel and a cute buckle on the side, they’re outrageously comfortable and look great with pretty much any combination of my wardrobe. However, after a pedicure I was sure they would scrunch my freshly painted toes. Unfortunately I didn’t anticipate this beautiful weather and didn’t pack sandals. So I laced up my sneakers, put my hair into a messy ponytail (this is right about the time I realized I only packed a teasing brush… just imagine my disarray) and headed downstairs for breakfast.

I ordered my favorite brunch: eggs benedict with coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. Luckily the hotel had taxis waiting so I hurried along to my nail appointment.

The hotel I’m staying at referred me to Venus Salon and Spa. I was able to get an appointment the next day and they were so polite and friendly. When I arrived the place was clean and had a relaxing atmosphere. Jess was my nail tech and she was FABULOUS!

A friendly lady that I pictured being in her early 60’s sat in the massage/pedicure chair next to me and started chatting away. Her name was Carol. I liked her immediately. She loved dogs and had her precious little chihuahua and pomeranian mix named Allie with her.

On a side note, I talk entirely too much for about 95% of people I meet. It’s even worse when I’m nervous because I speed up and spew words as fast as they’ll come out. I’d like to think that my brain works similar to that of a pin ball machine. It can never really stay in one place for very long. That being said I talk fast, think fast and usually end up interrupting people in everyday conversation. I promise it’s not because I’m being rude intentionally (my friends have come to terms with the fact that I have the attention span of a first grader).

Ok…. so back to Carol. We talked non stop while we enjoyed our pampering. She was such an interesting and well traveled woman. I was inspired by how much LIFE she had in her years. When she told me her children where in their 50s I was absolutely shocked. I thought for sure this woman was much much younger! She had such a bold, confident and beautiful personality. It always surprises me when I run into people that have hearts like mine. People that love traveling, eating, spending time with their loved ones and of course shopping. Carol informed me of all the amazing shopping options nearby and offered to take me there.


Now I don’t usually get into cars with strangers but I felt like Carol and I were already long term friends. She was leaving for Hawaii the next day (please imagine all of my jealous feelings inserted right here). I quickly brushed them away and told her that visiting or living in Hawaii has always been a long term dream of mine and that I too would travel there some day. Then she told me that she has Cancer. That she has had it four times. My heart just sank for a moment. How could such an amazing woman have cancer four times and still have the joyful and happy attitude Carol had? She is a woman of courage and you can tell from the fire inside her that nothing can shake her. I felt so blessed meeting this woman. Honestly, I am inspired to live my life to the absolute fullest, to enjoy all of the wonderful things in life and to always keep kindness as my currency.

When you are kind to others, you make a difference in their lives if only for a moment. When you tip someone more than they would normally receive, when you compliment a stranger or express how thankful you are it can change their entire day. I paid for my nails and sincerely thanked Jess for her meticulous work on the shabbiness of cuticles she cleaned up. They looked awfulllll before and I love the pink color Carol told me about.

As I waited for Carol to get her hair trimmed, I’m pretty sure Jess noticed how kind I was to her. Without asking, she picked up a blow dryer and started blowing my hair out. Let me tell you, it looked a million times better. I explained that I forgot to pack my hairbrush and was actually going to target to buy one and she laughed. I tried to pay her and she refused. She just smiled at me and thanked me for coming. I was so grateful for the outstanding service I received at their spa/salon and would highly recommend it if you’re in the Falls Church, VA area!

Carol gave me the tour of the shopping options and dropped me off at the mosaic shopping center. Target and Lululemon were diagonal from each other {what a great predicament to be in}.


You can just imagine how this turned out. I went into target for three things: a hairbrush, dry shampoo and new dress socks for Dan. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t let myself get too distracted and I actually remembered everything on the list. If you’re female you understand my struggles. Whoever sets up the layout of Target is a genius. You have to walk through women’s clothing, shoes and jewelry just to get to what you actually came for. I left with this and still feel successful.

 

(Dan’s socks not pictured)

 

I preceded to walk into Lululemon and it was quite a splurge I’m not going to lie. No matter how much I rationalize that I wear it EVERY. DAY… I can’t tell you how expensive it is. To me the splurge is worth it because it makes me happy. Lululemon is my kryptonite.


I was chatting with one of the store managers about how much I love their clothing. She recommended the 7/8ths length Align pant. If you’re in the market for a new pair of leggings that you can wear dressed up try these! They are my new favorite. They don’t have the same compression as the Wunder Unders (which are my favorite for any type of workout) and leave you feeling so relaxed! The align pant will be my new travel essential leggings for sure!!!

Overall, I had an incredibly relaxing day with Carol and shopping. I hope Carol enjoys a few sunsets in Hawaii for me and I look forward to keeping in touch with her.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.

Love, 

Jenny



Ps. This book is laugh out loud hilarious and don’t let Dan fool you, he loves Lulu as much as I do 🙂