Talking to an alien

I was always afraid of phone calls. Since I was a little girl, I had this trauma to speak with somebody on a phone and I’ve never grown out of it. Unfortunately, if you live in US, you spend half of your life on a phone to get something done. This helped me over the years and even I still don’t like making phone calls, I learnt how to deal with it. What also doesn’t help me is to have a husband who is even worse on a phone than I am and refuses to make any phone calls. 

I remember my beginnings when I had no idea what the person on the other side is telling me and because you don’t see his facial expressions it’s even harder to understand. So my trauma from phones got even worse. When my english got better, I started to understand more. I’ve also thought people had a hard time to understand me, but as I found out they didn’t. Of course, there are those people who pretend they don’t understand because they don’t want to, or they have never heard any foreigner, but it’s very rare. People like me who come from the middle of Europe, we have very clear pronunciation even our accent is harder it’s usually very easy for american ear to understand us. 

On the other side, there is so many accents what can make your communication very difficult and even you speak the same language you can’t understand each other.

After I bought my flight ticket home, I had to call the airlines to add my baby on the ticket. She will be only 12 months by the time we fly, so she considers as a lap infant what means she flys for free within US, and I pay only 10% of the cost of my flight ticket for the international flight what in my case is only $40. I could add her thru Kiwi.com where I bought the ticket from, but they wanted to charge me almost $300 for her! I’ve never bought a flight ticket from the agency before so I had no idea they can do it. Luckily, I called each airline before I purchased it and asked what my options are, and they said I can either add my baby thru the agency, or call the airline after I buy the ticket and just add her on mine. Of course, I chose the second option.

First I called Alaska airline (Redmond to Seattle) then Norwegian airline (Seattle to London) and everything went well, and when I called Level (never heard of them before) for my flight from London to Vienna, this Indian lady answered and first we were actually laughing together because she couldn’t spell my daughter’s name correctly and it took her 5 times until she got it right. I told her I understand how confusing the spelling is, especially when you have a lot of “e,i,a” in one name, and except the letter L that’s all my baby’s letters 😄 So, I swear the God, I was very patient and empathetic and even told her I wouldn’t be able to do her job. Well that was before I found out this women’s spelling is the best think she could actually do. After that I asked her if I can check in the car seat for free because in all US flights you can. First she had no idea what the word car seat means! I was still in a good mood so I tried to describe it. She didn’t understand. Then she told me that they allow to check in the strollers, and cribs. “The cribs?” I asked her very confused because who travels with the crib! So I asked her “did you mean the car seat?” And she said “no mam, I translated it and it shows me the word crib here.” But how she could tell me “no” when she didn’t even know what the car seat means? I started to be frustrated at that point. So I told her “let’s forget about the crib and try to figure out the car seat again”. I asked her if she knew what taxi means because she didn’t know the word car or vehicle. And jackpot, she did! So I told her when she gets in to taxi with her baby she need a special place for him. After that she understood what the car seat means! Ok, so I asked her again “can I check in the car seat for free or is there a charge”? And her response was “you can’t take the car seat on a plane.” After this I slammed my head on the table and wanted to cry. I took few deep breaths and asked her again the same question very slowly and I think you already know what answer was. The same! After that I don’t exactly remember what I said, but at the end of it she said “I am sorry mam but I have a hard time to understand you. I don’t know why because I didn’t have that problem at the beginning with you.” Really?! So why the hell we are on the phone for half an hour already and I still don’t know if I can check in the car seat for free? I know why she had a hard time to understand me at the end because when I am mad (and I was furious at that point) my native language speed kicks in and I speak super fast. Slovak is very fast compare to english, so I am not surprised she didn’t understand the word from it. I don’t think I have ever hung up the phone to anyone else except my husband, but I had to get out of this misery and to be polite was the last think on my mind so I did it.

One side of me feels bad for this lady because she must hate her job, the other side doesn’t care because I work in customer service and for a performance like this I would get fired on the spot, and the third side of me is super scared to fly with this airline. 

The cherry on the top is when I called them the next day (another Indian lady answered but her English was ok) the crazy non-english speaking lady didn’t even add Leila on my flight ticket! Oh, to check in the car seat costs 50 euro…

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When home is one click away

I did it! No, I didn’t kill my husband with the fork if you were wandering but I pulled the trigger and bought a flight ticket to Slovakia. I am still in shock that finally after 2.5 years I am going home. Of course I am taking Leila with me and as much as I am scared to fly such a long distance with her that how much excitement I have to see my family and friends and introduce them my adorable tiny human being .

Since we moved to Oregon I was looking at flight tickets every day and it was driving me nuts because they were super expensive or didn’t fit my dates but finally after months of browsing I found it. 

Even when we are still super broke it’s better for me to travel now than next year because by then I should have a job already and nobody would let me to take vacation after couple months. Flying wit an infant is way cheaper and the time is clicking.

My husband is not going and I know he will miss Leila but he is also going to enjoy the freedom with no “bitching” so I am sure he is excited too.

So yeah, only 1.5 month and I will sleep in my bed, eat my mom’s home cooked meals, play with my niece and nephew, have a heart to heart with my sister, laugh on my dad’s jokes, have a coffee (maybe cocktails 😊) with my girlfriends, walk on my secret roads around the town, sit on the wall underneath of the castle with the view of the town (if my butt won’t freeze cause it will be October already), listen to the bells at noon, go to the church and be happy every second every day for the whole time I will be there. But what is the most amazing thing from all? That everything what I miss and everything what I just named I am going to do with my daughter by my side. I am sure it’s going to be little weird to be home with her for the first time and live a life what I was used to for so long with one more addition to our family. Or maybe not and it might feel so natural like she was with me there the whole time. And when I am thinking about it right now she was there with me the whole time. As an angel above me waiting to meet me when the time was right. Now I am bringing you back my love.

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Leila (birth story)

I can’t believe my baby girl is 11 months old today what means next month she will celebrate her first birthday! The time is running and I really hope I won’t blink and there will be a young woman standing in a front of me instead of my little baby. I’ve always wanted to share her birth-story because it was such a beautiful and crazy experience so there it is.

It all started a day before when my coworkers surprised me with the last minute baby shower. Instead of our mandatory meeting I walked in to a room full of people waiting for me to surprise me. I live far away from my family and close friends so my heart is still melting when I think what these people have done for me and my daughter. I came home around midnight with the truck full of presents which my coworkers helped me to carry to my house. By the time I went to the bed it was 2am. I slept only 2 hours because I worked at 5am and around 4:30 I started to feel some pressure in my stomach. Didn’t think too much of it since I was tired and still full of emotions from my baby shower. I came to work and started our regular routine with my coworker. I was a recreation officer at the resort so our duty in the morning was to go to the beach and set up 90 lounge chairs with umbrellas then go to the pool side to clean the pools, set up cabanas and towel desk. Despite my 9 months big belly I didn’t mind the physical work, it kept mi fit the whole pregnancy. After we set up the pool side my coworker went back to the beach and I stayed at the pool. The pressure was getting stronger every hour so when 9 o’clock hit I called my hospital to see what was going on. Every book, every class tells you about false labor and how first timers takes forever to bring the baby to this world. They also wouldn’t admit you to the hospital unless you are 4-5cm or your water broke. Having this in my mind I thought this is a false labor and when I called the nurse she didn’t seem to be very much concerned either. I told her I was having these weird “pressure” contractions and they were definitely coming closer and closer maybe every 3 minutes and lasted about 30 seconds. So she told me to keep timing them and call her in an hour. My another coworker who came later was helping me to keep track of them and they last sometimes even more than a minute. The pain was getting worse and it got to the point that I called my boss and asked if I could go home. At 10 o’clock I called my husband to pick me up. 

We came home and started to get ready to go to the hospital. At this point I was already grabbing on things when contractions hit me. I went to take a quick shower and slowly finished packing my hospital bag. My husband jumped to the shower as well, packed his stuff, taking his time what I didn’t mind because I wanted them to admit me so I needed to be far in labor. I thought.. I called our friends to let them know it might be a baby time so they could pick up our doggy.

I looked at the mess in a hallway from all those gifts I’ve got last night and thought to myself “if these contractions are for real am I bringing our baby girl to this horrible mess?” I am sure every first time mom wants to have everything perfectly ready, organized and clean before baby arrives and that wasn’t about to happened.

So we got in to the car and the longest drive of my life began. We lived one hour away from the hospital and being Friday noon and driving on this tourist overcrowded island with only one main road made me want to kill every single one of them! Our poor car got a lot of punches and I have to say german engineering proved itself again because I was sure I was going to rip that door handle off. Finally we arrived to the hospital. My dear husband was turning to the parking lot when I opened my widest eyes and not very lovely barked at him “why the hell are you not dropping me of at the front?!” It takes about 10 minutes just to find a spot to park and then walk (at that point 100 miles) to my floor. He yelled at me back saying that this wasn’t the plan. What plan he was talking about?! We never had a plan! So anyway I made him to drop me off at the lobby, sat down and waited for him. Then we went to the labor & delivery floor together. When we came there I could barely walk so they brought me to my room and told me to change so I went to the bathroom and as soon as I took all my clothes off my water broke. Honestly it couldn’t be better timing 🙂 So I called the nurse and told her what happened and apologized like million times for the mess on the floor. I love how they always show it in the movies “oh my water broke let’s go the hospital.” Damn right 😀 The same clothes and everything 😀 So I climbed on the bed and they checked me and my midwife said I was 9 centimeters! All right I guess I am having a baby today 🙂 From this point everything was going very quickly. I had amazing team of nurses and my midwife Bonnie was absolutely awesome. I was so grateful to see her familiar face because she did few of mine prenatal visits. I gave birth at Kaiser and the way they work here is that you can not schedule your doctor or midwife for your labor you just go with whoever is working that time. Being here with no family or close friends she made my birth as it was done at home with the support I wanted. My husband was next to me the whole time I don’t even know what he was saying I just liked his presence. There is one thing tho what I remember him saying and that was to spit my gum. I said hell no I am not getting rid off my gum! I already look like shit so the least I can do is not to have stinky breath when I meet my baby for the first time. 

Maybe couple of hours went by when I was contracting in my bed hooked up to the monitors when they told me to go pee so baby can have a room when I start pushing. I was sitting on the toilet when the contraction hit me the way I was almost on my knees biting the metal railing next to me! At that moment I was thinking I am about to give up my natural birth and ask for an epidural. I never created a birth plan like some mamas do, the only think I wanted was to see if I can handle natural birth and if not to go with an epidural. So right there on a floor in the bathroom I almost asked for it. But then my brain started to function again and reminded me I am already so far and baby will be here soon. So I called the nurse who helped me to go back to the bed and she did another check and “bam” it was time to push. I was pushing for over an hour until this beautiful tiny human being was placed on my belly. Midwife said her whole body wasn’t even out yet when she started to cry. I was glad to do it without an epidural so she wasn’t drowsy from all the drugs. As soon as she touched me she calmed down and literally snuggled in to me. We didn’t decide on a name so now was the time to come up with one. The whole pregnancy people kept asking me if we found the name yet and I always said I have to see my baby first. I don’t know how people have the name picked out before they see their child. Well good for them but in my case the name had to fit her. I knew I will know when I see her. We named her Leila. I’ve never met anybody with that name but it fits her perfectly. So my beautiful little princess was born and since that second my life totally changed. Even I have rough days sometimes I wouldn’t trade it for the whole world. She is my everything, my soul, my best friend, my whole purpose of living and I thank her and God every day I am so blessed to be her mom.

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The life as a stage

This story is going to be a little bit different than you are used to read from me. I am not going to vent about my husband or any trouble what is bothering me. Today it’s been exactly 15 years what I’ve heard this life story from my dear friend and I would love to share it with you.

One summer afternoon I was sitting with Mrs. Anna on the porch of my parents’ house. This relaxing atmosphere brought many topics to talk about and the theme of life was no exception. When she said something to me I did not understand at all. “You know Ali, is very important to look at your life as you were on the stage.” “On the stage?” Mrs. Anna saw my confusion and by a simple gesture told me “listen and you will understand”.

“First I saw myself on the stage when I was seven years old when my mother died. My father who was an alcoholic did not have any interest in me and nobody was able to explain to me why others have caring and loving parents and I have no one who can ask me if I am hungry or tell me what to do when I have a stomachache. I envied all the children and I could not understand why someone hated their parents. I noticed as a child that life is very, very unfair and I wanted to know why. When my neighbors invited me for the hot soup I was ashamed. In my soul I hated them and avoided them. Of course, I pretended I was super full but in fact the last time I ate the soup was a month ago and I would eat it immediately. Everybody around me was bad and everything was disgusting. I lived with my sister for ten years who used me as a sitter and housekeeper for her three children. When I was eighteen she kicked me out of her house. And why? Because I bought a sweater, tights, pajama and books with the money I earned from my part-time job and for the first time I did not give it to her.

I was dreaming about studying at the university and to be educated. I wanted to know why the world is so unfair and why my destiny gave me a sister who hated me instead of someone who could love me. She did not only beat me but when I came home after my high school leaving examination she was yelling at me how horrible lazy person I am because I came home around 4 pm and the dishes were not cleaned, the dinner was not made and the house wasn’t neat. The word education did not mean anything to her. My sister has only three years of the primary school. Living with her I truly understood that education is an alpha and omega of a life. My sister has never looked on the stage. Maybe she was scared because she would see the picture of non-educated, lazy, hateful and fat women whose husband was an alcoholic and the whole world was responsible for that but her. She voluntarily married him, had children with him and instead of solving the problems she blamed everybody else for her misery and of course her closest people were hurt the most.

My drunken brother in law was breaking the kitchen furniture, beating his wife and chasing us with the knife around the house. He was screaming he is going to kill us so me and the other 3 children we were hiding on the top of the roof what was the only safe place because he was not able to climb the ladder and get us. When he fell asleep we could finally get out. Sometimes it was pouring all night. The next day he acted as the loveliest husband and father in the world. He cleaned, he cooked and he was actually like my father.”

After what I just heard I felt like the biggest selfish person and could not believe that I was ever complaining about my life. Anna continued and I was listening to every word.

“t was a terrible time, but I learned a lot. I learned that we should never give up and to be able to find the strength to look at the stage and find ourselves there. But it requires a lot of courage. When you see yourself it’s usually a breath taking because everyone wants to see themselves as the main character with the best role and never as an incompetent wretch blaming his parents, siblings, neighbors and teachers for their failures. This type of person thinks he is the smartest and everybody else on the stage is stupid. The audience is demanding and it doesn’t like useless characters which can’t see behind the corner or can’t anticipate the situation and find the right solutions. The reason is these heroes become boring after a while. They are not able to catch the audience and they can’t create any interesting dialog and the whole plot got stuck. This is really annoying for everyone. But when the main character changes his attitude and instead of never-ending excuses he is finally helping people around him and he puts other’s needs first then the audience wakes up and is excited to know how the story will end. There is a good vibration, the story culminates and everybody finds a piece for himself what moves his life forward.”

I wanted to interrupt her speech but Anna did not give me a chance. “I’ll tell you just one more thing Ali and we will go inside. I have a feeling it’s going to rain soon. The person is like a balloon. If there is just one tiny hole in it, the energy goes out. And it does not matter if the hole is on the top, on the bottom or on the side. All the bad things what person does that is the hole in the balloon and everything good is the cover around what fixes it. Someone is already born with a strong cover but he lets it to blow off and the happiness is gone. Someone has the balloon very weak but he is taking care of it and he is able to survive all natural disasters. But there is a catch. Everybody is responsible for the quality of their own balloon. Nobody will make the hole in it unless you let him and you also have to protect it by yourself. And that protection is love. To love people around us, what is the most valuable thing we can have. These are the words of Mother Theresa whose life proved the truth and meaning of these words. When our happiness wouldn’t be the only priority but we will focus on taking care of the others instead, only then we will live rich and a wonderful life filled with happiness. Because the life is never-ending and continues also in another dimension so that’s why we should start today.”

Mrs. Vlasta was right. It started to rain. We took all the things from the porch and hurried inside where we did not continue with our discussion. There was no reason. I’ve already learned the meaning of  “the life as a stage.”

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The power of an american smile

I come from the country where we smile when we are happy and look upset when we are upset. Pretty simple and also common sense, right? Well, living in US changed this logical biological mechanism to something very strange. To smile when you are upset or angry.

Every foreigner knows it from american movies but when you actually see it and use it, it really means only one thing. You’ve got “americanized” and it’s time to think for a second. Why are we so fake? Why we think it’s better to pretend we are happy even tho everyone else knows we are not? I am not saying to be rude or angry but being “fake nice”, in my opinion, can only make the situation worse.

I’ve been working in customer service for 10 years and I have to admit that I am more and more fake nice than real me when I am upset. It hit me at the post office 2 days ago. They had a lunch break from 1-2:15 pm (go state jobs) and I literally came there at 1:01 and the door was closed but people inside were leaving so I sneaked inside and asked the cashier very nicely (really nicely) if she can send my mail because it has to be send today and I wouldn’t be able to come back after their lunch break. She said very cold “no” but I kept trying, this time I was bagging, explaining my baby throw up situation in a car what made me late (I know nobody is interested in people’s reason for being late but I was really desperate). She said “I am sorry but we are closed” with the smile on her face and she woke up me american fake nice beast and with the biggest sarcastic smile you can imagine I said “thank you for your great service” and left the building. On my way out I met very confused old man who I saw getting out of a car when I was pulling in and I just realized it took him that long to walk to the post office. So he was there actually on time but nobody could serve him because he was too slow to get to the building. I teared up because we started to talk and then his wife appeared with 2 big boxes what they now have to bring back to the car. I offered my help but they didn’t want it, this old man gave me the biggest smile and said, “we have no place to hurry sweatheart, we will sit here and wait”. I just nodded, wished them a nice day and ran to the car to cry it out.

I understand the point of business hours. I understand the hunger. I understand people go to work and have their own life afterwards. But I will never understand why we act like the machines and forget we are human beings. I am not going to lie and say I always served customers after my store closed or was always nice to them. I had my moments thru the years and even if it takes a lot to make me angry when I am at work of course it happened. If you want a favor and come to me very rudely or disrespectful and after my fourth option you are still not on my page then I turn to a fake nice monster and send you out of my zone with the biggest smile. Working in hospitality taught me a lot how to reverse the guests’ mood and I would say 90 % of the time I was able to satisfy them. And those are angry upset people I am talking about. I’ve never turned my back or was disrespectful to anybody who was nice to me and many times didn’t even have my lunch break or stayed opened later. I worked at the surf shop before I started to work at the resort and my store was very famous in Japan so when I had a tour bus coming at 6:30 when the store closes, of course I am not going to turn them away. Or if I had a family knocking on the door at 6:40 while I was counting the register, bagging me this is their last day on the island and they leave early tomorrow, what a human piece a shit I would be if I said, no we are closed. Yes, I have a life after work and the fact I had to stay at work longer or make my lunch shorter didn’t make me happy but also didn’t hurt me.

I wish the world would be an easier place to live. I wish we all had infinite patience and put other’s needs in a front of ours. I can’t make this happen. But what I can do is to at least stop pretending I am nice to you when I am not and don’t make the situation even worse.

I was always very bad in math but I remember -+-=+. So maybe when we both are upset we can help each other to snap out of it and find a positive solution 🙂

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When you hit the jackpot on Sunday morning

The last few years where pretty rough financially for my family. We moved to another state to have a better life but so far we are still falling. Are we at the rock bottom yet? Having $62 for another week sounds like we already hit it but who knows. 

The whole night I was tossing and turning and trying to figure it out the ways how to come up with second income. My husband already works 50-60 hours a week and it’s super frustrating that it’s not enough so it’s up to me to find some quick solution. But this morning when I was playing with my baby in a bed she stood up and gave me this gorgeous smile. She can’t talk much but I felt she was saying, “don’t worry mommy, everything is going to be all right”. And she was right. We have each other, we are healthy, have the roof above our head and some food to eat so we will survive. There are people out there who don’t have any of that and I can’t believe how they do it. Especially with children. So instead of complaining I am saying thank you for everything I have. I keep forgetting how rich I actually am. Most of a time my mind gets stuck from living this hectic materialistic world and I forget what is really important. I was truly blessed with the best baby ever and she makes me a better person each day. She is my jackpot, my billion dollars and I wouldn’t trade even one of her smiles for all the money in this world. 

 

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Seven years in 3 suitcases or how to become a minimalist.

Moving across the ocean was definitely an experience. Lot of emotions and even more packing. When I moved to Hawaii from Slovakia I did it with one suitcase but only because I came there just for a summer with no intentions of staying more than that. But I fell in love with my husband and we decided to get married. Long story short, all of a sudden I lived on the other side of a planet in totally different environment with few clothes, laptop, camera and cellphone. That was a first time I became a minimalist.

While living on Oahu we moved only once from a beach house where we were renting a room to a condo with finally no roommates. That was a first time I was shocked how much stuff we gained in 4 years. And we were only renting one room! So when the second time came around I knew at least what to expect. Plus having a baby adds to your belongings 100 times more. Shipping to or from Hawaii is ridiculously expensive so I decided we are taking only our suitcases. You end up paying twice more so it’s logical to sell everything and buy new items when you move. Luckily we got a deal with our landlord that he bought most of our furniture. Everything was brand new and when I did a math we spend over $4000 and we offered him $1500 and he agreed. I realize we lost a lot of money but doing everything by myself (my husband was always at work and no big help on his days off) saved me a lot of precious time than selling it individually.

The other category was my baby’s stuff. It was breaking my heart slowly selling her outgrew clothes, toys and furniture. I wanted to bring at least her clothes and toys but except one onsie what I brought her home in from the hospital, her newborn hat, hospital tags and sonogram pictures I couldn’t pack anything more. Maybe you think, why didn’t I just ship one little box? Well, I could have but we had very tiny moving budget what actually didn’t end up being tiny at all due to our crazy spending time once we arrived to Oregon, but at that time I really couldn’t spend more money.

Originally, I wanted to have 4 big suitcases, 2 carry on bags and 2 personal bags. The cost of one suitcase up to 50 pounds was $25 per person and you were allowed to have 2 suitcases for this price. The third one would cost $75 and more. So two of us could have 4 suitcases for $100 what was 200 pounds. Way better than post office! But my husband decided to take his golf clubs so I had to cut down on one suitcase to have it checked for $25 instead of paying ridiculous price. So at that point I realized I wouldn’t be able to take any kitchen stuff. I planned to pack at least 2 of each because the apartment where we were moving in to was unfurnished. But I couldn’t do it.

The pressure was rising with the time. I repacked all the suitcases maybe 15 times, kept throwing out more and more valuables such us our framed wedding pictures, books, older but favorite jeans, t-shirts, shoes pretty much everything what wasn’t absolutely important had to go. I use Wic for ma baby’s formula and I had 8 cans left so of course I am going to take that instead of our pictures. It wasn’t easy I have to tell you. I secretly cried over few things even tho I do realize it’s just a stuff. Materialistic stuff. But when you add memories to it, it changes everything.

The last day of packing was also the same day we were leaving. Our flight was at 11 pm so we had to leave the North Shore at 8 pm because it takes an hour to get to the airport. We left so much shit for the last day (not my choice but my husband it’s the last-minute guy and I really needed help for a big stuff) that I am still amazed we actually did it! Our good friend came over and took all our kitchen stuff with food, my precious plants (I grew avocados from the seeds and pineapples), all the bathroom items and pretty much everything what was leftover. He loaded his truck twice! I didn’t want to stress as much because that was a first time we were going to fly with our baby and doggy so I wanted to keep the same night-time routine. I bathed Leila, fed her and luckily she fell asleep around 7:30, I put her in to her car seat ready to go when my husband just got done with cleaning, we both took super quick shower and with little bit of a delay sat in to our car at 8:15. I can’t believe how my husband fit everything in to our Volkswagen Jetta but he did! Our friend was giving us a ride so our poor car fit 3 adults, 1 infant in a car seat, 3 big ass suitcases, 1 set of golf clubs, 1 carry on bag and 2 personal bags. We sold our car to my husband’s coworker who picked it up from our “ride” friend the next day.

How we arrived at the airport and flew to our new home, that is another crazy story what I definitely write about soon. But for those who are about to move on a low budget, especially doing a big move, my advice is, don’t hang up on stuff. Take the big garbage bag and start to throw stuff in it. Apply the golden rule – if you didn’t use it for a year you definitely don’t need it. If you have to get rid off more, just keep adding everything what is not absolutely necessary. If you want to cry, don’t worry and cry. This world made us very materialistic and you are breaking this habit so it’s ok to be an emotional. If you need glass of wine or two, go for it. You are also leaving one life behind so get all the support you need. My baby Leila helped me every minute, every day and she still is the biggest motivation and mood cheerer of all. We did this move for her better future so I hope it was worth it.

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