Friday, December 30, 2011

Our First Christmas in Germany

I am embarrassed to admit I found myself almost dreading Christmas this year. I knew it would be incredibly difficult being so far from our loved ones on such a cherished holiday that is so centered around togetherness and being with family. I kept reminding myself that I needed to focus on the important part of the season, as well as the fact I needed to treasure making Christmas our own with our own sweet little family. I also reminded myself what a cool opportunity it is to be here and I need to enjoy the ride!

Christmas is a pretty big deal in Germany. There are Christmas markets held throughout the country; smaller towns typically hold them one weekend sometime between the end of November and Christmas, while bigger cities hold them open the whole time, even during the week. Münich, Dresden, Nuremburg and even Stuttgart are some of the better-known markets, but there are literally hundreds scattered all across Germany as well as Austria and Switzerland (and likely elsewhere too)! Going to a big, crowded market wasn’t really our cup of tea, especially with two small kids, so we opted for a small market in the nearby town of Maichingen. It is a 25 minute walk from our house. We were half way there when I discovered I forgot my camera :P We were surprised with how crowded this “unknown” market was…it was so packed we could not maneuver the stroller! My severely claustrophobic husband stayed on the outskirts with the baby while I took Kane and browsed the various booths of homemade goods, offering things such as scarves, ornaments, food, etc… We met up with my friend Friederike and her family, and they were so kind to treat us to some gluhwein, which is hot, mulled wine. It was delicious and perfect for a crisp, December night! I didn’t end up buying anything and had intended to go to at least one other market, but it didn’t pan out between fighting colds, lack of a car, and it being a bit of a hassle to go places with two little ones. Next year! I hope we can check out Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, Ulm and Tübingen at the very least.

I finally got some holiday cheer when we found a cute little pre-lit tree on base. It was the weekend before Christmas and I could not wait to put it up. Kane was an excellent helper and his excitement over Santa coming to visit was absolutely contagious! Nearly every day new packages arrived from our loved ones and Kane couldn’t wait to get them settled under the tree. Christmas is NOT about the gifts, and about so much more, but seeing those packages arrive and wait under the tree was a constant reminder of our wonderful families that lovingly sent those gifts from so far away.

On Christmas Eve, I made a roast, with mashed potatoes and gravy and greenbeans flavored with bacon and onion. And a cherry pie (thanks to Sara Lee). It turned out nice and Lucy got her first bit of solid food (squash) to celebrate as well! We had decided we would have the kids open their gifts from us and Chad’s side of the family that night, since they celebrate it on Christmas Eve. But first, Chad read us the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke. It was a special memory watching him read it as Kane eagerly listened in his lap. I couldn’t help but think of missing our family, but it also struck me that we were making it our own and starting our traditions. It was a really wonderful evening.
I could not contain my excitement over Santa coming to visit and gained a whole new appreciation for our parents and the lengths they went to for us making Christmas morning special. We had decided the kids would receive one present from Santa and one or two from us, and well as one from each other. That is it. We knew they’d be getting many other things from their grandparents and we did not want the emphasis on Christmas to become about how many presents they get. Kane asked Santa for a “see-saw” and “cutter thing”, which we knew to mean tools. Lucy didn’t care obviously, but she definitely needed some age-appropriate toys! Before bed, we made sure to leave Santa some peanutbutter cookies I’d made and some milk and we wrote him a note. While I got Kane settled in bed, Chad already started putting together his tool bench. We could not wait to see his face the next morning!
It went just as I had imagined…he loved it and I think was just as excited over the fact Santa ate the cookies and drank the milk! My mom happened to be up extremely late and skyped with us at about 9 a.m. and it was a treat to see her face and have Kane show her all of his favorite new things.

We had planned to drive to Strasbourg, France for Christmas Day…however we had to change the plans when Chad realized he’d need his International driver’s license and there was an issue taking the rental car out of the country or else we’d face a huge fine if caught. We chose not to risk it and decided to go to Hohenzollern Castle instead. It was a place I’d been wanting to go for awhile and one of the only things open on Christmas. It was windy and cold, but both kids did amazingly well and tolerated me stopping every 50 yards to take another picture. It was beautiful, and while it wasn’t quite France, it was still a really neat adventure. 

Our Christmas 2011 was a most memorable one, not only was it our first with Lucy, it was our first we made our own. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

An Eventful November

A Special Visitor
November came and went in a flurry of big events for the Jones family! My mom came to visit and was here from the 10th through the 15th. It was too short, but still such an awesome visit. She flew in on my sister-in-law Kaylee’s buddy passes through US Airways and flew from Denver to Philadelphia, where she boarded her plane only to be faced with mechanical difficulties and was delayed by 6 hours. She then flew from Philly to Frankfurt and took a train from there to Stuttgart.
I had only had my driver’s license for a few weeks and only driven alone a handful of times and was nervous to go pick her up in the heart of Stuttgart (big, busy city!) I missed the correct autobahn exit not once, but twice, so I was very late picking her up. It was so surreal and exciting to see her face! I then proceeded to get turned around by turning right when I should have turned left because our GPS can be hopelessly vague and late to the party. I needed a serious glass of wine by the time we made it home, but it was an adventure we conquered nonetheless, and it was so wonderful to have her here.
During her time here, we made a little trek to the Ikea that is about 5 minutes away…she’s never been to one. We were sucked in to buying a few household goods and so incredibly tickled by our lunch that cost €10 and we bought 3 entrees, 3 desserts, and 3 drinks. We also took a 25 minute walk to the nearby town of Maichingen, which is so charming and we got Döner Kebap (sort of like gyros), falafel, and pizza and then enjoyed Italian gelato on our way home. The weather was beautiful the whole time she was here…exactly how you’d imagine a perfect autumn, complete with colorful trees and fog-covered mornings giving way to bright and cheerful afternoons. We also showed her the base and went to dinner at a great place called the Römerhof in Vaihingen, where we got our first taste of spätzle…an amazing homemade German pasta.
                                               Enjoying some Turkish food

On her last day here, we had really wanted to do something special and show her a neat part of Germany.  The original plan was to go to Heidelberg, but our Land Rover was acting a little funny, so we were nervous taking it too far. My friend Friederike recommended we go see Tübingen, a town full of character and beauty that sits on the Neckar River that was only 30 minutes away. I am SO glad we went. The weather was crisp and gorgeous and immediately we were taken with its charm. We went to lunch at a place called the Neckarmüller that is a brewery. Mom was anxious to try some famed German beer. We ordered pretzels and potato and sausage soup and it was beyond delicious. We then walked to the Marktplatz (basically like town center/square), which was a maze of narrow, cobblestoned streets edged with shops and historic buildings. Mom desperately wanted to see a castle while she was here. As luck would have it there was one! Schloss Hohentübingen was originally a castle from the 2nd Century, that was rebuilt and added upon over the centuries and became a part of the university in 1816. It was closed for tours that day, but we were able to enjoy seeing the outer walls and take pictures from the amazing view as it overlooks the whole city. Overall, it was an amazing, most memorable day.
It was so difficult to see her get into the taxi the next morning and I spent most of the day moping, but Kane, my dear, sweet boy was intuitive to my sadness and kept giving me extra hugs, kisses and love. It was exactly what I needed!

We Have a Kindergartener!
The next day was a momentous occasion for us…Kane started Kindergarten. In Germany, the children attend Kindergarten from ages three through six. I was a little shocked at myself that I didn’t get more emotional at the thought, but we were in too big of a rush for it to hit me. It did a few days later! He was so excited and had zero apprehension. He walked right in the classroom and started playing with the fun new toys and other children. There are two groups, one I cannot attempt to say or spell, and the other is the Sonnenkinder (Sun children) which is the group he is in. He has one teacher that speaks fair English and the other two do not speak any. They all are lovely, wonderful ladies. He has had a bit of an adjustment…re-learning how to share and play well with others. The last year I was not working and he had little interaction with other children. This has been SO wonderful for him and he absolutely loves it. It also gives momma a nice break and the chance to have some special time with Lucy.

The end of the month was rounded off by us hosting our first ever Thanksgiving. It was kind of a big deal for us because this was the first time in our lives we’d ever not spent it with other family and the first time hosting. I was afraid to tackle a turkey in the oven I had not yet figured out, so we decided upon Mexican food…something hard to come by here and something we’d been craving. I made a big pot of green chile, homemade refried beans, a Mexican chicken casserole, dip (with chips), and a sourcream-based soup (that never even made it out to the stove because I forgot about it. So like me). Five of Chad’s work colleagues came and it was a really lovely time. It was fun to celebrate in the company of others and meet some new friends!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Few Tidbits About Germany (So Far)

Well, it’s been almost two months since the kids and I have been here. Hard to believe…in some aspects it feels like it’s been much, much longer than that and in others, it feels like just yesterday Lucy was born and we were in the chaos of trying to put together our move.
While the kids and I were staying with my parents, that month while Chad was here flew by in a blur. It was such a blessing to be able to spend such quality time with our loved ones before we left, yet I also remember just feeling more than anxious to get here and be together as a family again, and in a sense, start a new life. Chad and I tried to catch each other on the phone each day…which was new for us, as we’re not a couple that talks on the phone much at all. I’d anxiously await his call and it seemed like each time I’d talk to him, he’d fallen more and more in love with this place and had all sorts of new and interesting things to tell me about it here. I can see how it had captured his heart so fast. Only two months in, and I have fallen in love with it too.  The longer we’re here, the more we discover about life here and, in some aspects, how different it is than the U.S.

Germany is roughly the size of Montana and has a population of approximately 81 million people. Chad has seen evidence of this in the crazy traffic he encounters on the autobahn making a 6 mile drive in an hour and a half on his way home from Patch Barracks. Compared to Colorado, it does seem so much more…dense. And yet, there are so many beautiful trees, vineyard-scattered hills, farm plots, and quaint villages to make it every bit as picturesque as you could imagine. The Germans take the environment extremely seriously… recycling is mandatory and quite a rigid process. Everything is so clean! It’s expected that you keep your walk and drive swept clear of any leaves or snow on a daily basis. (We already have failed in this category…the trees are merciless in shedding their leaves all over our pathway to the front door). The general expectation is that you are to have shoveled by 7 or 7:30 a.m. Also, car emission standards are extremely strict and they have signs posted showing which cars, identified by different colored emissions stickers, are allowed to enter that town/area. Some areas don’t permit motorized vehicles at all if there’s a “no smog” sign. It’s also quite noticeable that many people hang their laundry out to dry. My guess is the outrageous cost of electricity may have something to do with this. That, and it takes roughly two hours to dry one small load with a European dryer.

The German culture is very serious about rest. Virtually all stores, including the mall and grocery stores, are closed on Sunday, as well as most major observed holidays. There is to be no yard work, no laundry hung, or cars washed on these days. There is also what is called ruhezeit, which means “rest period” every day, also known as “quiet hours”, which are observed from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Even the parks are unofficially closed, and everything becomes eerily quiet. Luckily it coincides closely with nap time. :)
In some ways it’s a faster pace of life…there are so many more people, more traffic, etc… but it’s neat because the culture here allows for a more laidback way of life, which is something we’re easily getting used to.

Making a New Friend and Kindergarten!

Chad primarily chose this house for us because of the German kindergarten right behind it. When we first moved in, the weather was lovely and Kane would longingly watch the children play on the playground and even shout the occasional “HI GUYS!”, to which, he got a few curious glances. We knew we’d have to put him on the list, but assumed he’d perhaps be able to start after the first of the year…thinking it’d be done sort of like it is in the US. Not so much.

While the weather was still warm, I’d take Kane and Lucy to the park down the street every late afternoon upon waking from their naps. So far, it seems as though German people are not quite as openly friendly or talkative as what we were accustomed to in the States, especially in a small town like Pueblo. I’d been going for about a week or so and noticed the same mother there with her two young children, a girl…Maja (Maya) that looked slightly older than Kane and says “Hallo” with a sweet smile and wave to everyone she meets, and a charming little boy with an ever-present smile that looked to be about a year old. I knew the little girl’s name because I’d heard her mother call to her, and I remember thinking it was such a pretty name. I’d smile at her and nod, but was too intimidated to say anything and I didn’t want to assume she spoke English. Not nearly as many people here do as I’d imagined. It was through chance that one day a grandmother that was there with her granddaughter came up to me, speaking words I didn’t understand, but with a smile on her face…she referred to Lucy. She immediately registered the look of confusion on my face. She said, “English?” and I replied to her “yes.” She asked how old Lucy was and when I told her 2.5 months she gave me a look of shock and said “BIG girl”! Yes, she is. We get that a lot. The mother with her two children was standing there and joined the conversation. The ice was broken and I could feel myself get overcome with excitement as she spoke English to me...she asked how long we’d been here, what brought us here, where we were from, how old the children were… It felt wonderful to make my first friend here. She introduced her son, Jahn, who is in love with me J (Or rather, loves all women with long blond hair, haha). He is darling and always has the most wonderful grin. My new friend’s name is Friederike and she is such a wealth of knowledge and help!

Upon one of our first meetings at the park she asked of Kane’s age and mentioned the school nearby. I told her the house overlooked it and we hoped Kane could go there after the first of the year. She replied that they’d already started and I’d need to get him on the list (and basically “good luck getting him in!”) I knew I needed to get over there, but had been dragging my feet…a combo of feeling intimidated by the language barrier and the kids’ nap schedules. That day, we walked home from the park together and I pointed out our house (she lives further down the road). A day or two later, she stopped by to let me know to go to the kindergarten the following day and to talk to a certain teacher. That particular school was full, but the teacher would help me find another nearby that might have an opening. I was so grateful, but found myself nervous too! Ok, now I had no excuse…Friederike was helping me out and I needed to follow through. So, I went to the school with Kane and Lucy in tow after returning from my first MOPS meeting on base (to be featured in a future post), and walked in and found a lovely older blonde woman cleaning up in the kitchen… “Sprechen Sie Englisch?” She shook her head no. Of course. Oh, boy, this might be tougher than I thought. Luckily, she brought me over to a woman named Karen (unsure of the spelling, because it’s pronounced more like Car-In, only with a soft roll of the “r”). She explained there were no spots for Kane but she’d put him on the list. She went on to tell me every year there are many three year-olds beginning kindergarten in the fall, so it might be a year until he would have a place anywhere. I felt my heart sink a bit. Chad and I both so wanted for him to be able to go…he needs that interaction. There’s a waiting list on the base and it’s MUCH more expensive. Plus, there was the added bonus he’d learn German and meet other children in our neighborhood. Kane immediately made himself at home, pulling out puzzles and books to look at and he couldn’t wait to get out on that playground he’d so longed after! Karen was a good sport and indulged him and his excitement to be there…I could tell she got an absolute kick out of him. Before we left, she said she’d have the director of the school call me should a spot open up. I tried not to get my hopes up, but from the minute we had walked into that place, I fell in love with it and prayed hard he’d be able to get in before next fall. I just had a feeling…

The following Monday was Columbus Day. Chad had the day off, and, we decided to go to Ikea to try to find some furnishings for our still very empty townhouse. It was a disaster, but we won’t get into that :P Someone had called while we were out, but our prepaid phones don’t have voicemail, so I had no clue who it was. I gave Chad the number and he looked it up online. It was the kindergarten!!! I was so excited, but tried not to be. I wasn’t sure what it was about yet. So I called the next morning and left a message…rambling, I’m quite sure. Shortly thereafter, Frau Nesklar (sp?), the director of the school called me back and greeting me saying, “Ms. Jones, I have some good news…” I honestly think I half-shrieked. I couldn’t believe it, I was so excited! I shared that with her a few times as well. I could tell she thought I was pretty funny, but she humored me and my over-abundant enthusiasm. I felt like I'd won the lottery...because in a sense, it was exactly that. She said to come the following couple of days, whenever I had time, to fill out paper work. I did, and Kane once again went right out to play with everyone and made himself right at home. I had a good feeling about this. I was delighted to find out it will cost 60 euros a month for him to attend every morning from 8 – 1230. We’ll have him start on November 16th, the day after my mom leaves to return home. We are so anxiously awaiting her arrival on the 10th and look forward to this new adventure for Kane beginning the 16th! When I told him he was going to get to go to the school all the time soon, he looked at me with the most genuine smile and brightness in his eyes and said “I’m SO excited Momma!” He wanted to go right that minute. I know it’s going to be an adjustment, but I also know in my heart he’s going to thrive and he’ll love it. So thankful to Friederike for her help in pushing me to get my foot in the door and to God for answered prayers!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moving into our new home

Ahhh...internet, how how I've missed thee! It's been driving me slightly crazy not having any connection to the goings-on in the world for so long. 
We moved into our house on the 17th after two weeks in the hotel. We are in a suburb about 15 km southwest of Stuttgart called Sindelfingen and it's about a 15 minute drive for Chad to the two main bases he works at and we are on the outskirts of town, bordering farm land. We also live really close to the Mercedes-Benz plant. It'd be fun to take a tour sometime. We haven't had much opportunity to explore the town yet, but I'm very anxious to do so. There's a bus stop directly in front of the if only I could understand the routes! That'll come in time :)
The house itself, is a row house (basically like a townhome). It is 149 square meters (approximately 1600 sq/ft), with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and three stories tall. It has some serious stairs! Off of the second floor is a decent sized terrace with some grass and bushes for privacy. Kane really loves playing out there. It overlooks the kindergarten (pre-school) that Kane will hopefully attend after the first of the year, if I ever get my rear over there to put him on the list. 
It doesn't quite feel like "home" yet though...our things we shipped over won't arrive until October 7th, which is five days earlier than what we were originally told, so that's a plus! For the time being, we are getting by with military loaner furniture. It isn't the most attractive, but hey, it's a place to sit and sleep and I'm so grateful for it! They also provided us with a washer and dryer that are very nice. What a blessing! 
Here are some pics of the place pre-furniture:

                                                                 The Living Room

                                                                   The Master Bedroom

                                                                    The Kindergarten

                                                                     Main Bathroom

                                                                      The Kitchen

                                                                        View from Master

                                                                       "THE" Stairs
Cute Kid in front of "THE" Stairs :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting Here and Our First Week

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about flying alone with a rambunctious 3 year-old and a 6 week-old infant. I went through boughts of being downright terrified, to forcing myself into thinking, "I got this", to ultimately reminding myself it was only 9.5 hours of my life and even if it went poorly, I'd get through it just fine. I prayed a lot. I contemplated ordering wine once we got on the plane, but I didn't. Instead I took some deep breaths and said "here we go!" :) And... it went great. 

My mom was able to assist us down to the gate with a guest pass, which was a true God-send. Getting through security was the most stressful part because Kane just did not understand having to take our shoes, belts, electronics, and liquid items to put in the bins to put through the x-ray machine. It gave him a lot of anxiety, but thankfully my mom was there to handle the baby while I tried to calm Kane and explain the process to him. He did well, and even gave the security guy standing at the end of the line a high-five :)  After feeding Lucy, going through a diaper change and restroom was already time to board the plane! It was yet another tearful good-bye with my mom, but I was kind of glad we didn't have a bunch of time to sit around and wait. Kane and I both were pretty wound up with excitement and anticipation. 
We flew on Lufthansa, a German airline, and I was impressed with the staff. Everyone was so helpful. I also couldn't help but notice everyone was just-stepped-out-of-a-magazine beautiful! I was also easily amused by everything being in German...mostly because I'm super intimidated by the language barrier and it was an appropriate initiation and reminder of the new life we were starting. Lucy had a few fuss-fests, to which, instead of receiving glares, several kind passengers around me offered their help. It made me feel so much more at ease. Thankfully, she pretty easily fell asleep in the Moby wrap (looove that thing!) and Kane was entertained by the excitement of it all for a few hours and also promptly sprawled out across his and Lucy's seat and slept soundly until about an hour and a half before we landed.

Despite getting beyond lost in the Frankfurt airport, I was so ecstatic to be there at last...and most of all couldn't wait to see Chad. We were exhausted but so happy to be there (Kane, with red-rimmed eyes and running on fumes was exclaiming "We're in 'Germy', Momma!" with a huge smile on his face) and when we finally found Chad, it was a sense of elation and relief and excitement! After a month apart, it was so good to be together at last. It was pure joy to see Kane just reach up his arms and hold onto him tight with the biggest smile I've about ever seen. That boy sure missed his dad! 
Because of being so lost, our 4 suitcases and 2 car seats had been removed from baggage claim and put in a storage closet. Gathering it all and getting it to the car, (which was as far away as possible) was another adventure. I fought hard against falling asleep within 5 minutes of being on the road (it was essentially 3:30 a.m. MST, and I'd not slept much at all on the plane). Kane and Lucy both were asleep before we exited the airport parking garage :)

Once we got out of Frankfurt I was immediately struck with how pretty it was! It was very lush and green, with beautiful trees everywhere. I was also slightly horrified with how crazy-fast some people drive on the autobahn! As in 120+ mph. And then I was completely delighted as we drove on near Heidelberg to see an old and modest castle in the distance. I couldn't believe we were actually here! It brought home how I had always dreamed of getting to travel to Europe, but had given up hope I'd ever get here. And here I am. I have this amazing opportunity to actually live here and to immerse myself in the culture and the language and see sights I never imagined I'd get to see. 

We are staying in a hotel on the Panzer Kaserne Military Base. There are 3 others in the area as well, and Chad travels to all of them for his duties as the Fitness Director. Panzer is where his office is and where he spends most of his time, however. It's really nice, but I am so anxious to get into the place we'll call home! It's getting a little old living out of boxes and's been 2 months and I'm just so ready to get settled. This base is beautiful, it sits up against a forest area and has cobble-stone streets and an odd but beautiful mix of old and modern buildings. They have a "mall" with a food court that the kids and I go to every day. There's a bowling alley and a bounty of fun play areas for Kane. The air is so noticeably clean here! The landscape is very different from Colorado. The climate and topography here is said to most closely resemble the Eastern U.S...specifically Pennsylvania. I've never been there, but so far, we are really enjoying it.
If all goes well...we are supposed to be able to move into our home (a modern row house) on the 15th! Chad drove me by it on Sunday, but I still have not seen the interior. From what he described, it sounds really nice, but he's nervous I won't like it. I am prepared for it to be smaller than what we were used to, but it sounds like it has enough room and I'm sure it'll be great. I couldn't help but be reminded that Chad essentially picked out our house we bought in Littleton too. He went and looked at it first (while I was working) and fell in love with it. He knows me well, because I loved it too. I have no doubts that he found us a great place here too :) Just like back home, what really sold him was an unobstructed view. The house backs up to a Kindergarten (hoping to have Kane begin in January) and a beautiful area of corn fields and trees. I'll post pics when we get our internet set back up at the new place!

Next on the list is for me to get my German driver's license...eeek! That requires a 4-hour course and 100+ question test, which (Chad can attest to) is said to be very hard. The few times he's driven me around have me a bit nervous, I'm not gonna lie! It's going to take awhile, but I'm so excited to get to know the area more and get out there and learn more about it here. I'm also beyond anxious to get out and see more of the sights of this gorgeous country and some of the amazing places not too far away...the Swiss border is roughly an hour or so away, Paris is a 3-hour train ride, Venice is approximately 270 miles away. I don't know how long we're going to be living here, but I know it'd be a crime not to take advantage of being here to take the opportunity to travel. I hope there are lots of pics to follow in this blog! :)

The Decision to Make the Big Move!

June 11th, 2011 was a day we made a life-changing decision, with a lot of prayer and support from each other and our families...we agreed we'd be moving our young family to Germany. On June 9th, after nearly 3 months had passed since he'd interviewed for the job with the Army, Chad was offered the position as the Fitness Director at the Army installation near Stuttgart, Germany.

Our initial reaction was "heck NO!"...I was due to have our daughter in roughly 6 weeks, my parents and I had just spent all weekend working on the nursery, and well... we were settled and we really loved our lives in Pueblo. Since it'd been so long since the interview without any word, it was the furthest thing from our minds. But, God persistently put a nagging voice in our minds to not be so knee-jerk about it. One thing was would be a tremendous, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We quickly realized we needed to have an open mind and heart and to approach it prayerfully. It soon became clear that God is placing this in our lives for a reason and while we were scared...we're taking this leap of faith and trusting God and his plan.

The next two months flew by in a flurry of paperwork, gathering important documents (none of which we could find, so we had to order new ones!), making travel arrangements, organizing, preliminary packing, having a baby somewhere in the mix, more organizing and packing, tying up loose ends with the house/bills/etc... in Pueblo, seeing Chad off (reported to work here August 8th) and temporarily move in for a month with my parents with Kane, 2 week-old Lucy, and two car-loads full of "gear" in tow. It was absolute chaos and insanity, but we did it. We couldn't have done it without our families...that is for darn sure. I want to thank you all does not even seem adequate to say, but truly...thank you all so much for all you did to help us with the move, but most of all for your encouragement and support! We tried to have a sense of humor, held onto our excitement and trust in God and his plan, and jumped in with both feet. 

The last month in Colorado, I got to spend staying with my parents and it was such a blessing. I absolutely cherished the time I had and got the opportunity to spend such quality time with all of my loved ones! I got to stay exactly 4 weeks and it seemed like such a long time when Chad first left, but it flew so fast. It was incredibly difficult to say good-bye, but it was exciting to get on that plane to begin this new adventure in our lives!