Our first week in Germany

Traveling here – Monday, August 6
It was a loooong day of travel, but all three of us survived! We left the house at 5:30am. My dad drove us to the airport and helped us with our luggage after he parked. He had a few last minutes of cuddle time with Connor while we checked in and walked to security. We said our (teary-eyed) goodbyes, immediately after which I realized Connor had a leaky poopy diaper. Well, better in the airport than on the plane, right? I hoped that my dad didn’t arrive at work with a streak on his shirt, and I just held a diaper cloth over the area until we got through security. Loved it when the TSA agent on the other side of the metal detector said I needed to put the cloth on the conveyor belt…Anyway, we got through and I changed him, and off we went to our gate. We were pretty early, so Connor had plenty of time to eat and play on his blanket before getting on the plane. He slept most of the flight!

We arrived in Baltimore a little after 10:00, and Connor was still sleeping in his sling. We loaded our bags onto a cart and dropped them off at the USO. We had many hours to kill, and thankfully Charlie has some family that lives nearby so they came to hang out with us! We spent time with his Aunt Shirley, cousin Leigh Ann and her son Tyler, and cousin Terry and his fiancée Stephanie. We had a great time, and they enjoyed meeting Connor for the first time. Around 5:00pm, we said our goodbyes and went through security.

Once we got to the gate, it was almost time to board the plane already! It was great that the military bought a seat for Connor…we left his seat between us to keep things handy that we needed during the flight. We took off at 6:50pm. Connor was sooooo good! I was definitely nervous…he had made it through our 3 prior flights with flying colors, but this one was about 7.5 hours. He mostly slept and ate (actually, he really did sleep a lot), and when he was awake he wasn’t fussy except for just long enough to tell us if he was tired or hungry again. We were served a snack, a hot meal, and breakfast, and there were 2 or 3 movies during the flight. I was able to sleep a fair amount with Connor, but I don’t think Charlie slept very much.

We arrived at Ramstein Air Base around 8:30am on Tuesday. Charlie and I both looked at each other and said, “That wasn’t so bad!” Well, except for the kid (who was old enough to know better) who screamed for the last hour or so. Then came the not-so-fun part. We waited in line with everyone from our flight to have our passports checked, then waited for our bags. After we got our bags, we weren’t sure what we had to next but we could see where everyone was going, so I decided to stop and change Connor. That was a big mistake…By the time I finished that, we were almost the last people to arrive in the next room. Charlie had to fill out something, then we had to wait for his orders to be confirmed. Of course, they were doing it in the order that people filled out the form, so we had to wait a couple hours. The exhaustion was setting in, but Connor was a real trooper. Finally, (around 11:00am?) Charlie’s name was called and we were allowed to go outside and meet up with his sponsor. Lukomyansky (we call him Luko) was waiting for us, and thankfully he had someone else with a van for all of our bags.

Finally, we arrived at our temporary lodging, which is on Vogelweh (the western side of Kaiserslautern). We have a decent room – bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen, and living area. After dropping off our bags, Charlie and Luko left to take care of some in-processing. Connor and I napped together until Charlie got home a few hours later. Luko had taken him by the commissary, so I fixed some dinner for us while Charlie took a short nap. We all survived our first full night of sleep without too much upset from jetlag. Connor definitely didn’t sleep 6 or 7 straight hours like he had been doing before we left for Germany, but he did just fine. Even if he wakes up a lot, he always goes right back to sleep after eating.

Wednesday
Charlie left first thing in the morning to do some more in-processing with his sponsor. Connor and I had an uneventful morning, and around lunchtime the Morminos called. Demetra and Paul arrived here about a month ago, and this is our third duty station together! The came to pick up Connor and me and we went to the big mall on Ramstein Air Base. We had lunch in the food court, went to the Base Exchange to pick up a few things we needed, and also went to the commissary. It was great to get out of our room for a few hours!

Thursday
Um, I think I did laundry…

Here is Connor trying to recover from jetlag with a marathon nap 🙂

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Friday
Aaaaand cabin fever starts to set in big time. We woke up excited because we had an appointment that afternoon to look at a house we really liked. About 2 hours before the appointment, we got a text from the landlord that the house wasn’t available anymore. Bummer. We spent the next few hours looking up houses and calling landlords. I was dying to get out of the room, so we put Connor in the stroller and walked about a mile to a Mexican restaurant on Vogelweh. My meal was decent, but Charlie’s was terrible so we walked across the street to Subway before heading back to our room. I was just glad to get out of the room and eat something besides salad and pb&j!

Saturday
A friend of Charlie’s that also moved from Fort Carson picked us up so we could look at two houses. The first was in Sembach, the same town as the kaserne (the German name for the small US bases) where Charlie will be working. The second house was in Hochspeyer, which is about 15 km south of Sembach. We really loved the house in Hochspeyer and knew almost immediately that we would take it! The landlord only speaks German, so a guy from the Band who is fluent in German came to translate for us. (Charlie already knew him from the ALC course they took together in Virginia earlier this year.) We arrived before the translator, so Charlie introduced us to the landlord by reading a few sentences he had prepared using an online translator. I think he really endeared himself to her by putting forth so much effort :). Plus, I think she liked us anyway because Connor is so darn cute :). The house is beautiful and has a great view of the town. We should be able to move in a few days!

Here is the view from our new house… 🙂

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After house-hunting, we went to lunch in downtown Kaiserslautern with Andy (who was so kind to drive us around all afternoon) and his friend Chris who was with him. Finally! We had German food!! Until that meal we had eaten Subway, salads, Mexican, pb&j, and Chinese. We were way past ready for some authentic German. Charlie had jaegerschnitzel, and I had a dish I can’t remember how to spell. I was pretty sure I could randomly pick anything from the menu and I would like it :). It was a skillet with potato, bacon, and egg with a few sweet pickles on top. Yum! Shortly after we got home from house hunting and eating, Paul Mormino came to pick us up for an evening at his house with his wife, Demetra. Paul grilled some German sausages and pork steaks, and we tried to enjoy eating outside before the flies and farm smells drove us inside :). They live in a tiny farming village in a fantastic house, complete with cows, chickens, grapevines, and berry bushes. I got to eat a few raspberries straight off the bush!

Sunday
Connor entertained us in the morning by rolling over for the first time! I put him on the blanket for his obligatory tummy time, during which he usually fusses and gets frustrated. This time, he immediately held his head up high, then he started leaning his head to the left side. The weight of his head rolled him right over! I put him on his front again, and he did the same thing 🙂

We spent a really nice afternoon with the Liverman family. They have 4 fun kids, and we are looking forward to spending time with all of them again! They had been taking care of our cat, Bailey, since she arrived in Germany on July 10. A few weeks ago, the Livermans moved from the Heidelberg area to the Sembach area (the entire unit is being relocated), and shortly after they moved into their new house, Bailey unfortunately decided she was ready for an outdoor German adventure :(. The family has really done everything possible to try and and find Bailey, and we’re all remaining hopeful that she will return.

Monday
Today could have been a disaster, but thankfully Charlie and I were able to keep our cool. We had to take a driving class (video and lecture) before taking the test the following day. We arrived at 12:00 for the 12:30 class, only to find out that it actually starts at 1:00 and they tell you 12:30 so that you won’t be late. So, we had already been there for an hour by the time a lady came to lead everyone downstairs for the class to begin. As usual, Connor had been good as gold so far. As Charlie and I walk past the lady, she says, “Oh no, you can’t have a baby in there.” Um, what are we expected to do when the spouse is required to be there and we have a baby? Her wonderful solution was for us to take the class on separate days, never mind the fact that Charlie is busy with in-processing almost every day and can’t necessarily stay with Connor for 3 hours. Her only offer was, “You can leave him with me and I’ll come get you if he cries.” I bit my tongue on that one. But we kept our cool (barely), Charlie went downstairs to take the class, and his sponsor came back to pick up Connor and me. We went to another kaserne to register my ID, then had some time to kill before we had to go back and pick up Charlie. So, he took me back to his house, which is in the same town we will be living in, and I got to meet his wife and 8-month-old son. They are a wonderful family, and I enjoyed lunch with them before we had to go back to meet Charlie. Looking forward to our two little guys playing together :). After Charlie was finished with the class, we stopped by the credit union to set up an account (so we can pay some bills in euros), then stopped by the commissary to re-stock our kitchenette (the fridge was getting pretty bare…). Connor was so good through our long afternoon! Well, unless you count when he loudly filled his diaper right in front of the lady helping us at the bank, but who could blame the little guy? We had dinner, Charlie decided to go ahead to bed, and I’m relaxing I the couch with Connor. Don’t think we’ll be up much longer, either…

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