Friday, December 19

The Sweet & Salty

I'm so tired. My brain is fried. These past couple months have done a number on me - new baby, work on elections immediately following giving birth, family visiting, Ryan's Thanksgiving baking operations, and moving to Germany! Thanksgiving weekend we were told Ryan's new job needed him in Germany December 15. I had two weeks to inventory and pack everything we'd bring here. I had so much help from so many good friends and volunteers that I tear up just thinking of all of them. I really had a great thing going in Leesburg and I am very sad I didn't get to soak up as many parting hangouts as I would have liked. My kids were watched, meals were brought in daily, laundry was folded and inventoried, walls were washed, kitchen was deep cleaned, my baby was held, floors were vacuumed, giveaways were freecycled and/or picked up . . . no one felt as loved as I have during this whirlwind! Boy do I miss those wonderful friends!!!

We got on the plane Monday at 5:30pm and arrived around 10am Tuesday. The kids did fabulous! PHEW! To our surprise, one of Ryan's new coworkers met us at the gate in Stuttgart airport! He was invaluable w/ local knowledge of how things worked and also stole Ryan away as soon as we arrived at our hotel to go meet the bosses. SURPRISE!!! My super deed for the week - knowing where I'd packed the travel iron among our ten huge suitcases and getting Ryan's shirt pressed in a flash. This quick parting, however, this did leave me and the kids in the hotel with no food, euros or nearby restaurants that I dared to venture out to with our bedraggled little crew - all of us on verges of meltdown. Luckily I'd packed some chocolate Ensure shakes, peanut butter, and my favorite Costco almonds which the boys thoroughly enjoyed oddly enough.

After one night, we traded in our fabulous spacious first hotel suite that had it's own kids' bunk room because Ryan's company told him it was over the allotted amount - even though it was booked by their travel agent. Wednesday morning was an adventure (Stuttgart is six hours ahead of East coast time) as our jet-lagged bodies tried to check out real fast before 11am, load ALL our baggage and kids into the rented minivan, and try to find two acceptable hotels we had the addresses for but no directions. Can you say FUN on an empty stomach since we'd missed the breakfast buffet by mere minutes? As we did our driving search, I had a 50 lb duffel bag in my lap so I couldn't quite see but was good checking the right hand lane for Ryan. We ended up finding a decent hotel whose location is perfect. We're two blocks from the train station and our hotel is attached to a small mall with a huge grocery store in it among eateries, shops, and a huge electronics emporium.

Since then, I try to keep telling myself location is important but the confines of our room vs taking the boys out where I'll have to remind them incessantly to stay close to me and not touch things in the mall or outside in the 30 degree weather has worn me thin. It wouldn't be so bad if I could have contact with the outside world from said hotel room, but internet is a whole other beast here. I can only access it from one of our hotel's lobbies which is not kid-friendly. The kids are in their own states of chaos with all this upheaval and I just hope we all survive the interim in one piece still liking one another!

I'm trying to write to catch you all up on our past week and there's just too much! It seems my attempts at independence and proficiency are woefully lacking! I can't even figure out how to tell the maid to come back in an hour to clean our room. My money wasn't accepted at the grocery store yesterday when we were trying to purchase breakfast as McKay dumped out half my liter of water. The man standing behind us thought we'd knocked over and broken a bunch of the little vodka bottles and was tattling on us while I tried to explain in English that no one understood that it was my water, not vodka, all over the floor. I went back this morning by myself quick and as I approached the register, I dropped one of my yogurts which spewed open. It was still good, but the cashier didn't see the goop on the side and was disgusted with me and my lack of German as it got all over her hands. I just can't win!

The food issue plagues me. Hotels here don't do ice buckets in your room or ice machines on your floor. I've got this great grocery store right here, but can't heat stuff up or keep anything cold. I've resolved to get a hot plate for our room so I can at least make hot breakfasts, mac'n'cheese and such. At restaurants, I often can't tell what's on the menu so there's a lot of pointing going on when the waitress or cashier doesn't speak English.

We did take in a large Christmas market Wednesday night in downtown Stuttgart. Ryan and I had a good laugh over trying to figure out the train system here where tickets are on an honor system. Highpoints of the market - crepes were FABULOUS, Ryan has connected in a huge way with his love of marzipan (almond paste), hot chocolate mugs with free refills all over the market til you return the mug and get back money, the aroma of good eats on the grills, and a small toy train ride for the boys. I was amazed at the drinking crowds! We plan to hit at least two more Christmas markets before they end on Monday.

Ryan is taking this all very well in stride. He has so much on his plate with a new job and tying up loose ends back home. I'm amazed he's still functioning! I think his love and discovery of such plentiful marzipan treats and baked goods keeps him fueled. I love how he takes such great joy in trying new things and gets us out the door!

Today we took care of business by getting my access card for the bases. We took in the PX (like a KMart) and lunch at Panzer and then a driving tour of Patch where Ryan works. We'll have access to stuff on the bases which I hear is wonderful. All I can say is HALLELUJAH for the indoor jungle gym today! My little guys were in serious need of some all out romping fun. I've got to figure out how to make this time of close quarters more enjoyable for all - hence my craving for online search time that hasn't been able to happen.

It's likely we'll be in a hotel for a whole month at the least and our belongings will not arrive for two months (that was fun to pack for by the way!). We'll begin our house hunt tomorrow morning but we're told the rental market is pretty sparse right now. Pray we find a place as soon as possible for my sanity! I anticipated this being a trying experience getting settled and have resolved that praying for patience and courage really means I'll be tested. Some days I'm up for such opportunities for growth, I just wish they weren't happening moment to moment right now. Ahhh, thank you quiet lobby with Ryan putting the boys to bed. Thank you blogging reprieve and yummy sweet and salty peanut M&Ms! Sometimes it's really the small simple things that get us through!