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!