Guten tag!

Have we REALLY been here almost three weeks now? Shame on me for not updating.(I’ll get better I promise!!) Well first things first, our trip began with probably the hardest part….goodbyes to Denny’s grandparents who helped us at the airport and saw us off. Over the last four years we have been blessed to be so close to them. They have been there through holidays, birthdays, and perhaps more importantly long deployment days where I needed a helping hand and someone to tell me it’s okay. We have gotten close, and it wasn’t easy to gather up our boys and board the plane. Perhaps the biggest push I had at the moment was the promise of sitting down.

Our legs ached as for whatever reason we didn’t think to drop off our luggage and THEN park. No. We parked then decided to haul 7 suitcases, 4 carry-on items, a diaper bag, and two car seats plus two small children through the parking garage, down the long long LONG underground walkway to the terminal, and finally to the elevator where we fought off a heart attack. Thankfully the lady at the ticket counter was exceptionally nice and got us situated so we could concentrate on the two giggling boys behind us that seemed to not notice the people trying to push past them as they played in the middle of the terminal.

Once on the plane I grew excited. We stopped in Chicago and made the long treck through O’Hare. We flew Lufthansa Airlines, which may I add is amazing. Their food was delicious, they were immensely helpful with the boys, and the attendants looked like sophisticated European models. I will say though that it really sunk in when we boarded and the captain made his entire announcement in German first. It was a glaring reminder that we had A LOT to learn.

We landed in Dusseldorf and our sponsor was there to greet us. It was also in the midst of a major winter storm. The locals went on about how this was rare so late in the season. Each day I grow wary of the truth to this though as it STILL snows some cold evenings..

Anyway, our cab that our sponsor had arranged for was nowhere to be found. We waited,and waited,watching cabs come and go. The snow falling to our tired feet. Our kids even too tired to whine. WHERE THE HELL WAS THIS GUY?? He finally pulled up in a larger cab/van (hence the reason we waited…we require a call-ahead vehicle to fit our huge American stuff) We strapped the car seats in and began the drive to our village. Our cabbie did not speak English, it was quiet to say the least.

We finally arrived at Altes Brauhaus. It is beautiful, and the owners are beyond fabulous. They are always helping us and pointing us in the right direction, and always up for a friendly chat over a beer.

So what have we done the last three weeks? Well, remember we stood out in the snow? Both the boys came down with awful colds. Denny and I have also shared a stomach bug. A fine welcome, no?

But we have also found a house that we are set to move in to April 15. I am beyond excited to have our stuff back and get back to some sort of normalcy. The house is the typical German two stories and a basement, 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath. A playroom downstairs, as well as a great storage room. We have a backyard looking out over an old time windmill and our village is complete with a few bakeries and a butcher, and of course a church with a bell tower that rings out at noon everyday.

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I also have found a car, a silver BMW 320i. While it isn’t new (that comes before we leave) it is perfect for running back and forth around here in style. It is smaller than what I’m used to, and I’m having to remember the way of a manual transmission. But I have named her Heidi and I can’t wait to pull up to our new German home in it.

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Denny also received his car from port last week. Luckily it passed the German inspection with ease, despite the glances from the locals as they see the beast that is a Dodge Charger in Europe. Even Denny is a bit uneasy at driving in some of the smaller villages and tight streets.

And speaking of driving, we both have tested and achieved our German driver’s license. It is quite intimidating in the beginning, especially when you realize personal space is unheard of and it is the norm to have about five cars in your tailpipe as you try to decipher street signs (or lack there of) whilst in a roundabout and trying to switch gears.

But each day we get more confident… driving to new places, stumbling through conversations with the locals (Did you know “chicken nuggets” transcends all languages?), and slowly getting used to “NATO time” which is basically whenever-no hurry. More than anything I long for our stuff, and we are counting down to when the packers are at our new door.

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They came, they packed, we were on the floor. It’s always strange to see your belongings boxed up and hauled away by total strangers. Crated up and knowing your possessions will merely be riding the waves of a ship across the Atlantic….very strange. Nonetheless that’s exactly what happened.

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And after a night or two on the floor, despite generous friends offering up their blankets and air mattress, we all voted to check-in to temporary lodging on base. Good grief. I had such fond memories of it and I can’t think of why for the life of me now. The “cozy” living space seems merely cramped when you add 2 small children and their toys to the mix. And naturally it has been cold outside which rendered the park across the street useless for much of the time.

But we made use of what we did still have and wore the kids out by having a blast with friends and family before the big farewell. Denny’s dad made the trip down and we had a blast feasting on our local favorites and shopping. We finished the weekend with a delicious family meal down at the ranch with the whole family. It was bittersweet watching as the boys played with their cousins, having the time of their life and knowing we would be taking them so far away from a family that loved their every move. It seems so strange to think that upon our return from Germany Dawson will be 9 and Grayson 5.

We also had a bon voyage dinner with our close friends. Again, it was hard to watch as Dawson played with two friends he has had literally almost his whole life. The ultimate trio was breaking up, all thanks to my itch to travel.

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Too late to take it all back now. Bags are packed. We are ready to go, or at least as ready as we are going to get.

But I bid you farewell…. Tomorrow we have a plane to catch.

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