It’s Fall, Y’all!!!

Fall is my favorite time of year!! I fell in love with the season when I lived in New England for eight years. Let me just say, New England knows how to make a person fall in love with fall. I went apple picking (which also meant that I enjoyed fresh apple cider and cider donuts), I experienced Salem, Massachusetts during the month of October, I ate my fair share of Dunkin pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, I watched Patriots football, I wore all the cute fall clothes, enjoyed the cooler weather, watched trees turn yellow, red and orange, and when I walked outside, the sound of leaves crunching under my feet made me so happy. It was glorious.

Now that I am living in a place that has four seasons again, I am fully taking advantage of the things fall has to offer here. Our apartment is decorated for fall (thank you Amazon and Walmart!). The leaves are changing color. The weather is cooler so I have been breaking out the lightweight jackets, scarves and boots that I have been longing to wear for years (not much use for them in Florida where fall weather is 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity). I am loving hearing the sound of the crunch of leaves under my shoes. Pumpkin and butternut squash are in season and for sale at the grocery stores, along with wonderfully juicy apples.

Although fall has been great so far, I can’t help but to reminisce about some of the things that I took for granted living in the United States that make fall “fall” for me. Apple picking, cider donuts, canned pumpkin, Dunkin Donuts pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts, Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, and fall scented candles. And unfortunately there is a big time difference, so the first football game of the day starts around eight o’clock at night, which is nearly bedtime for me (yes, I go to sleep ridiculously early).

Alas, that is how things are when you choose to move overseas. The only option is to make the best of it, put on your creative hat, and try to substitute when you are able to. I was able to order pumpkin muffin mix. They sell cider at the Le Silpo grocery store, so I will attempt to make homemade cider donuts. As for candles, I am going to look for some at Epicentr this weekend. Wish me luck!! As for football, I will attempt to record a game that we can watch on Monday night instead of Sunday.

So, I will leave you with a few pictures that capture this fall for me thus far..enjoy!!

We Got A Dog!!!

I have never been a dog person, or a pet person for that matter. My first memory of a dog was my grandparent’s dog, a Golden Retriever named Carlito, knocking me to the ground inside their living room when I was around 5 years old. Big dogs intimidate me because of this memory and small dogs annoy me because 99% of them jump on me. And I do NOT like it when dogs jump on me. I never had a desire to have a pet, and I never had a pet until eight years ago when I moved in with my husband. He had a cat, and I was miserable- I did not like the experience at all. She destroyed our couches, peed on the carpets, and did not, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy for me.

And even though he already had a cat, my husband always said he wanted a dog. For years the situation was not ideal for us to have one, however. We both worked and were away from the house for most of the day, and we lived in apartments with no doggy door, no backyard, and our landlords/apartment buildings/HOAs did not allow dogs.

When we moved here to Kyiv, my husband again stated (for the millionth time), that he wanted a dog, but I did not think he was serious. I gave my husband so many reasons why we should not get a dog.

“It costs too much”

“I will have to clean up all the messes”

“Our house will have dog hair all over it”

“Our house will smell if it goes pee on the carpets”

“We will be chained to the house and have to cut dinner and outings short to be back by certain hours to walk the dog”

“The dog will destroy the furniture”

“We are living in a place that snows 5 months out of the year and is freezing November through April- do you really want to walk the dog in sub-zero temps when the sidewalks are icy?”

“It will cost us thousands of dollars each time we go from post to post for airfare, vaccinations, etc.”

My husband told one of his coworkers he wanted a dog, so his coworker, being a dog owner and pet lover, sent him email after email on the daily with info on dogs that need to be adopted here in Kyiv. One day, my husband showed me a picture of a Shepherd mix, and asked my opinion. I replied, “oh, she’s nice,” in a noncommittal tone, like I always have when he shows me pictures of dogs. A few days later, he said to me “the guardian of the dog is bringing her over on Friday, we’re getting her.”

So, on Friday the 13th, we got a dog. A ten month old Shepherd mix we decided to name Mila. We had a translator come to help us with the paperwork and communication with the guardian. The following day we took Mila to the vet to have a chip put in her and to have them verify that she is sterilized, which we also needed the translator’s help with.

For a week and a half, I have been getting acclimated to having a dog. I am still not a dog or pet lover, but she is slowly growing on me. Despite going pee 3 times on our bedroom rug, I’d say she’s pretty much the perfect dog. She is good natured, is socialized pretty well with other dogs, and is small enough (at 45 lbs) that I am not intimidated by her size. She also listens to me most of the time.

The irony is that my husband wanted a dog, yet I am the one who is doing the bulk of the work!! I have spent a lot of time researching natural and organic dog foods, watching hours of YouTube video on dog training, and ordering all the things for the dog (LED dog collar, Kong toys, dog treat container, doggie bowls, dental bones, mat to go under the dog bowls, dog brush, dog treats, dog food, carpet deodorizer, doggie bags, etc.). Every day I feed her, walk her, sweep up massive amounts of dog hair, and spend 10+ hours a day with her while my husband is at his job.

I also have to have most of the doors shut when I am at home, because she is not to be trusted to go into other rooms by herself. This has led to me feeling trapped and claustrophobic, which has not been good for my mental health. Everything I’ve read states dogs are good for mental health, but for me, it is the opposite thus far. I have already had a massive anxiety attack, which thankfully my friend called me despite a 7 hour time difference to help me calm down and talk it out. To alleviate my sky high levels of anxiety and stress, I made my husband promise that we would get help with a dog trainer and part time housekeeper ASAP. The amount of extra cleaning that I have to do is no joke!! I realize this is just a season, and soon she will be house trained (I hope)!

It has been a big adjustment for me, and I never realized how much puppies are like two year old children. You have to watch them all the time, your sleep is cut short, they demand lots of attention, you have to cleanup their pee and poop, they have tons of energy, there are toys scattered throughout the house, and you have to feed them multiple times a day. And they make messes that you have to clean up. But, they also do hilarious things that make you laugh every day, you are forced to play and kind of be a kid again, and they give you hugs and kisses. I now easily make my step goals thanks to daily walks, and my dog brings out a nurturing side and motherly side of my personality I never knew I had.

Without further ado, I present to you our new fur baby, Mila!

Flag Day

It’s taken a few days for it to sink in, because it doesn’t really feel “real” yet, so here’s how my trip to DC went and how we found out where we are going in May:

I flew into D.C. on Saturday morning. My hubby met me at the airport and it was sooo good seeing him after being apart for two weeks. We had brunch, ran some errands, and relaxed a little at his apartment until mid-afternoon when we left for an informal friends and family gathering of some of his A100 classmates. All in all, it was a fun afternoon sharing in the same nervousness and excitement of some of the other spouses, and getting to know his warm and welcoming classmates. Afterwards my hubby and I went to see the Zoo Lights at the Smithsonian Zoo.

Sunday and Monday went by in a blur- we watched some football on Sunday, and Monday my husband’s mom, dad, brother, and brother’s fiancée came to town so we all went to dinner together.

Tuesday I purposely tried to stay as busy as possible to keep my mind off of Flag Day. I worked out, ran errands, and got my hair done. My in-laws came to pick me up to go to the ceremony. We got there super early, which gave me enough time to let the nerves get the best of me. Finally, the ceremony started.

Speeches were short and sweet because everyone wanted to know where they were going already! There was one country we were pretty sure we were going to get, and quite honestly I was shocked when my husband’s name was not called. Finally, around a third of the way through, my husband’s name was called- folks, we are going to Kyiv, Ukraine!!

After the ceremony there was a little reception, and then we went to a Russian restaurant with Ukrainian food- in fact, our server was from Kyiv! Needless to say, I am so happy and relieved that we are going to Kyiv!! It was high on our list of places. The city has good public transportation, I get a break from hot and humid weather (yesssss!!), and there are plenty of wonderful travel opportunities only a short flight away.

Now that I know where we are going, I have been busy getting cold weather clothing and beginning to take online lessons in Ukrainian. I am determined to know as much of the language as possible by the time we move there!