Moving in!

On Sunday we went to a house-warming party at Luko’s house (Charlie’s sponsor). It was fun to have 4 little boys under the age of 2 all playing together :). (I’m using the phrase “playing together” loosely :).)

Sunday was our last day in temporary lodging…and no one cried about that! Connor decided to celebrate our last night by sleeping 6 hours straight! He hasn’t done that since we were in Atlanta. And now that he remembers how to do it…we’re moving again. We got up really early on Monday so that we could load the car, check out, drive to our house and unload, and Charlie could make it to his training by 8:00am. Connor was fast asleep in his carseat, so I laid down next to him on some blankets and rested until he woke up. Once he woke up, I tried to start organizing things and clean while he played, but that wasn’t working so well.

Around 9:30, FMO came to drop off some things. They brought a temporary bed for us to use until our household goods arrive, and some other items that the military provides for us while we live in Germany: voltage converters, washer/dryer, refrigerator (German fridges are very small and don’t have freezers), a microwave, and 4 wardrobes (no closets here).

Someone else was coming later to hookup the washer/dryer, so there wasn’t much Connor and I could do in the meantime. Couldn’t go for a walk or lay down in upstairs in bed because we had to wait for the next people to show up. We went out to the backyard and I picked up a few apples that had fallen off our tree. Ate one for lunch and it was pretty good! After the guys came to hookup the washer/dryer, Connor and I were finally able to go upstairs and try to nap…but as soon as we laid down together, he was all giggles! No nap for mama…

Charlie came home around 2:30, and then we headed to the BX. We bought a small tv and lots of cleaning supplies, ate at a restaurant inside the mall, then came back home. I started a load of laundry since Connor had no clean burp cloths, and the wash took forEVER. It must have been almost two hours – no joke. I need to try a different cycle next time. (All the settings are in German – maybe that was my problem :).) Charlie walked over to Luko’s house so that he could help him setup our Internet. Connor went to sleep while he was still gone and I was able to manage a shower without him waking up! Our temporary bed seemed pretty small, but we all managed to have a decent night’s sleep during the first night in our house. (No, Connor did not sleep 6 hours straight!)

This morning was another early one because I had to take the driving test. You have to be there by 7:30, but you have to get there early to stand in line to get a number because they only take 20 people. Connor was a happy guy while we waited in line, and he fell asleep shortly before I had to get started. Charlie put him in the front carrier and he napped the whole time I was testing. I passed! Thank goodness. 92 questions correct out of 100. So glad that whole process is over.

After the test we stopped by Army Community Services because there was an error on our gas bill. ACS can translate bills and even call the company on our behalf. We were near the commissary so we decided to go ahead and grocery shop, but the power had just gone out in the commissary so it was closed! We waited about 20 minutes and the power came back on and we did our shopping. Gotta love that first grocery trip when you’re in your new house and you need EVERYTHING…

We took our first family walk tonight. I can’t get over how picturesque this town is, and I can’t believe we’re living in it! We’ll definitely bring a camera next time we walk.

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Field trip to IKEA

Saturday didn’t go quite as originally planned, but it still turned out to be a fun day! We took a carload of stuff to our new house, and walked in to find a sweet house-warming gift from our landlord :). (There’s a bottle of champagne under the striped onesie.) Can’t wait for Connor to show off his new European clothes!

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The Morminos met us there to see our new place, then we walked down the street to find some lunch. Apparently no restaurants in Hochspeyer are open for lunch on Saturdays! After striking out at three places, we decided to go ahead and drive to Mannheim. We had planned to go to a hot air balloon festival in Mannheim that evening, and we thought we’d stop at IKEA beforehand. It was only about a 30 minute drive, and we went to the cafe in IKEA to eat first. Good thing we all fueled up, because it must have been about three and a half hours before we saw the light of day again!

Charlie and I wanted to look for a bed. We had a king in Colorado, but we left it in storage there because we didn’t think we’d have enough space for it here. Turns out we do, and after six weeks of sleeping in a full or queen, we are way past ready to have a big bed again. I know I know, we were spoiled with a king, but as Charlie puts it…I sleep like a starfish, and when Connor is with us, he’s either a mini starfish or he’s busy dreaming about training for the Olympic swim team. So we are definitely ready to be back in a big bed :).

I had no idea that the beds here are completely different than in the US. We thought we’d just buy the mattress, box spring, and metal frame and call it a day…we didn’t care about having a bed complete with headboard, etc. But over here, there are no box springs or metal frames. You have to buy the wooden bed, then buy the support that goes under the mattress (a layer of springy plastic slats), then the mattress to go on top. At IKEA, they only sell 2 mattresses in the size of bed we wanted, and they were much more expensive than we had anticipated. So we ended up buying two twin-size mattresses to go inside the bed frame. Turns out that’s pretty common here, and they sell the foam strip to “connect” them. We did the same thing for the mattress support – bought two twin-size instead of one big one. Phew, we finally got all of that picked out…then we had the challenge of picking out sheets. They were all sold separately, and it was almost impossible to find a flat sheet and a fitted sheet in a matching color and material. We had to go though the warehouse and pick up the mattress supports before heading to the checkout line. That took a while, then we had to go to another warehouse area to pick up the mattresses and bed, and then take all of it to the delivery counter. Next, Charlie had to go to the customer service desk to turn in a VAT form (value-added tax). In Germany, there is a 19% tax built into the price of everything, and military/DOD civilians can use the VAT forms to get that money back. After completing the form at the service desk, Charlie had to go back to the cashier to get the refund. PHEW, we were finally done, and it was almost 7:00. We were all exhausted, and decided to go home instead of going to the balloon festival. Connor hung in there for the marathon shopping trip, and the Morminos found a few things for their house.

Thankfully, every store employee we talked to spoke English. It was funny, though…when we would ask, “Sprechen sie English?” they would all shyly answer, “A little bit,” then proceed to speak almost perfect English!

Exciting news!

Charlie is on the promotion list! As of September 1, he will be a Staff Sergeant. He has worked hard and has been waiting for this for months. So proud of him!

In other news…

The weather finally cooled off! Poor Connor was in nothing but a diaper for about 2 days straight. On our walk the other morning I actually had to cover him with a blanket! Love the cool mornings and warm, sunny afternoons.

I took the driving orientation class this past Monday, and I’ll take the test on Tuesday. Connor enjoyed a few hours of quality time with daddy while I took the class 🙂

Not much else new the past few days…but we are getting exited to move into our house on Monday! We stopped by the Lending Closet today, which is a place on base where we can borrow kitchen supplies until our household goods arrive.

Connor’s latest trick

We finally caught Connor rolling over on camera! He did it 4 times today :). Sadly, I can’t post videos to this blog, so check it out on Facebook!

A short trip to Heidelberg

We had a fantastic afternoon in Heidelberg! We met at Jes and Derek’s apartment, then took the streetcar into downtown Heidelberg. It was about 95 degrees today, with no air conditioning anywhere! Well, except a window unit at Jes and Derek’s, which we all stood in front of once we got home 🙂 We walked down an old brick street lined with shops, restaurants, cafes, and churches.

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At the end of the road was the Heidelberg Castle. So cool! Then, we went across the river on an old bridge to get a better view. We got something to eat, had some gelato of course, then headed back to the streetcar.

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It was a lot of walking on a VERY hot day, but we all managed to have a great time. All the kids hung in there, too. Connor might look like a Brokovich, but he most definitely sweats like a Mraz. The poor little guy’s head was wet pretty much all day, whether he was in the stroller or being carried. But, he barely complained, and when he did it was easily remedied by changing from stroller to being carried or eating. What an easy-going little guy :). I have a feeling we will all sleep well tonight!

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A great weekend!

Friday morning we got the keys to our house and set up the gas service. It really feels like our house even though we’re not living in it, yet! Now we’re trying to decide how to use each room and where all of our furniture will go. I’m channeling my dad and brothers for their supreme furniture-puppet-making skills :). After our appointment at the house, we went to post office on Sembach so that Charlie could get his mailbox combination. It was one of those, “You MUST come between 10am-12pm, NO exceptions.” I think we pulled into the parking lot at 11:50am, only to find that they had closed at 11:30am for an “organizational day.” Fail. Soooo we drove back to Hochspeyer to drop off Charlie’s sponsor, then went back to our new house to wait for our friend Jes to arrive.

We met Jes and Derek in the fall of 2007 and quickly became friends. Until yesterday, we hadn’t seen them since we left Atlanta to move to Colorado in 2009. Meanwhile, Derek enlisted and was sent to Germany for his first duty station. What a great place for us to reunite after 3 years! We had a fun afternoon with Jes and her two young boys: we had lunch at a Greek/German restaurant at the bottom of our street (um, I’m pretty excited to have two of my favorite cuisines about half a block away…), came back to show her our house, walked to the town pool to look around (and boy did we wish we had our swimsuits!), stopped by a bakery on the way back home, then we played in our backyard :).

Around 5:00, we all went over to the Hutto’s house in Enkenbach-Alsenborn for a cookout. Jes and Derek are good friends with them, and this was our first time meeting them. The Livermans were also there. It was fun to meet some more new people and hang out with families that have kids. Connor is going to have lots of playmates! After dinner, some of them were going to a Medieval festival in another town, but Charlie, Connor and I decided we were exhausted and ready to head home.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the BX (Base Exchange) and commissary. We had lunch at the food court, stopped by the cell phone store to get some info on plans, then spent a while picking up things we needed at the main store, and finally stopped by the commissary. Connor is such a trooper on outings!

Sunday morning we headed back to the BX to setup a cell phone plan. We couldn’t do it yesterday because we had to come home and call AT&T customer service to “unlock” our phones so that we could use them for a new plan here, then connect them to iTunes to complete the unlocking process. After we (finally) got the new plans set up and our phones activated, we hit the road to Heidelberg! Jes and Derek invited us down for the day to show us around. (More on Heidelberg in the next post…)

(When we first found out we were moving to Germany, we thought we were going to Heidelberg because that is where the Band is stationed. But, the Band is currently in the process of relocating to Sembach. New soldiers are moving directly to Sembach, and current band members are gradually moving to Sembach. Until the relocation is compete next month, the soldiers who already live in Sembach catch a shuttle to get to Heidelberg for work each day.)

Extended stay in temporary lodging…

Our house…
If you read the last post, you know the good news is that we found a house to rent, and we can move in on the 17th! The bad news is that we won’t have any furniture until the 27th 😦 That’s the earliest date that the military-provided temporary furniture can be delivered. Looks like our household goods won’t arrive until September 17…yikes! But, once we get a temporary bed on the 27th, we can move in as long as we can borrow some sheets, towels, and kitchen basics. Thankfully, our temporary lodging isn’t bad, we’re just anxious to move into our new house. Click here to see a web page about our new town, Hochspeyer. (I let google translate the page, so some parts of it might sound a little strange.)

Connor is 4 months old today!!
I can’t believe how quickly time flies. It seems like practically every day he has something new to share with us. Yesterday, it was a giant fit of laughter! He was getting fussy after dinner because he woke up earlier than normal that morning and didn’t nap as long as usual. I put him in the moby wrap facing out so that he could “help me” take the recycling outside and get a change of scenery. He was immediately quiet once I started wrapping him, phew! All of a sudden he made a loud noise and I thought he was about to start crying, but he was laughing so hard! He has been full of smiles for a while now, and we have heard little bits of a laugh or an excited sound here and there, but nothing like this! It was hilarious, especially since we had no idea what was so funny. It was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard.

Our car is here!
Charlie went this morning to pick it up, register it, and get it inspected. He had to strip off the window tinting on the front two windows (German rules…), but other than that, the car is good to go! Charlie got his license on Tuesday, but we’re going to wait until later next week when he has free time to stay with Connor so that I can take the class and test.

The weather has been gorgeous so far!
We were expecting lots of rain, but thankfully it has been pretty dry. Most days have been sunny and in the mid-70s…a welcome change from the 90s we were constantly experiencing in Atlanta, Abilene, and Colorado Springs. But, the next several days are supposed to be in the 80s and 90s here, and there’s no A/C. Aaaaand that’s why Germans have windows that are easily opened…see random observation below :).

Random observations about Germany:

  • The phone numbers don’t all have the same number of digits. Weird.
  • The produce here is AMAZING! Everything is so fresh, and some of the fruits taste better than in the states.
  • The roads in the towns are narrow. Very. Narrow. Makes me extra grateful for our little Jetta Sportwagen, and even more grateful that I don’t have a driver’s license yet 🙂
  • The windows in houses and buildings are awesome. Each window is one big pane that has a large handle to easily open it. You can turn the handle one way to vent the top, or turn it the other way to swing it all the way open.
  • The playgrounds here look WAY more fun than in the states. I’m in NO hurry for Connor to be big enough to use them, but he will love them when he is ready!
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