>Some thoughts on Germany…

>This entry may be a bit scatterbrained, but at least I’m admitting it up front. The past several weeks have been a complete whirlwind and I’ve loved almost every bit of it. Six weeks ago today we entered the Colorado Inn at Fort Carson since much of our stuff was in boxes and it was next to impossible to be comfortable in our house. We loved that place very much and hated to leave it at all, but with me being pregnant and the boys being, well, boys, we needed to get away from the boxes and on to a place that would house us. Staying at that hotel afforded us the chance to still be on post, near our friends, and among our familiar surroundings. We had a great view of our mountain and the boys had plenty of room to run around. After six nights there we loaded up our van and drove across the country. We chose a southern route in order to see new sights! We stayed in Amarillo and Dallas TX, Lafayette, LA, Pensacola, FL, and finally made it to Orlando a day early. We stayed in a non-Disney hotel for 3 nights before the grandparents arrived for our real vacation and we got settled in Port Orleans, Riverside for six nights. Great hotel with wonderful food, on site with a convenient shuttle bus system to take us back and forth to the parks. That trip was a dream come true, one we had waited and waited for. I so appreciate Disney for offering the Military Discounts that made the magic possible! The only disappointing part was Animal Kingdom but Matt and I had suspected that and, as it was our last day, all of us were pretty much ready to be done and none were too sad to leave the park early. (Not much on animals in the first place.) After we completed our stay at Riverside we moved into a hotel I had selected along with the help of our fabulous Travel Agent, Melissa Sims. It was within walking distance to the POV Processing Center where we were to drop off the van for shipping and it had a free shuttle to the airport. We spent 3 nights in this hotel waiting for our flight to Germany. I’ve written about our experience getting to the airport, about the flight, and our first night in the German hotel in this blog.

So I want to write a bit about our time here in Germany with some pictures I’ve taken of random things I have found neat or interesting.

I’m going to start with some things I noticed at my doctor’s appointment.

* When they had me drink the sugar water, it was not an “orange soda” kind of drink at all! It was 75 g of water that they had mixed up probably the day before with some serious sugar or something. It was just in a mason jar and the nurse poured it into a Dixie cup. I had to drink it all right then…no 5 minute window.

* There is only one chair for giving blood in the offices that I saw, so when they needed to take my blood and the chair was occupied, the nurse just took it in the lobby.

* When they take a vial of blood, they take it to the lobby and put it on the receptionist’s desk. You’d never see that in America. (Not saying there’s anything wrong with this, but it just doesn’t happen in America. Blood doesn’t come to the lobby for any reason!)

* They do an ultrasound at every visit, and the dr. does it herself. She was very quick and I’d say she was better at it than any technician I’ve ever had in America. Got a beautiful picture of Parker in just seconds!

(I took a picture of myself at the request of a few friends wanting to see the baby bump. Here it is at 25 weeks 5 days.)

Here are some random things I’ve experienced:

* Drinks in restaurants – they don’t give you ice in your drinks and since I was prepared for this, I just accept it. I don’t try to order ice, I just drink my coke as it comes. There are no refills so we tell the boys to go easy on it. There is a neat concoction that I had been told about before we came that my boys really like – coke mix. It’s a mixture of sprite and coke! The boys love to go to fountain machines and get a little of everything (GAG) so this is like a toned down version of that!

* It stays dark until 8:30 am and is dark again at 5 pm. I have heard that the summer is the opposite, with it light at 5 am and still a bit bright out at 10 pm.

* It rains almost every day. This leaves everything, sidewalks, streets, playgrounds, benches, etc, soggy and moist all the time. I am using a LOT of stain remover on their clothes and washing their coats all the time due to moss and mud. But at least they’re playing outside. We are currently borrowing a car from some friends and it is SPOTLESS. They don’t have small children with muddy shoes so we’re putting walmart bags on the boys’ feet before they pull their feet in the car. Works pretty well! (And, of course, they don’t get in with muddy clothes. We only get muddy at the playground and if we’re going somewhere in the car, they change into clean clothes.)

* The dollar is very weak. We had to pay 50 Euros for something and we can just use our debit card. The receipt always shows the Euros and the dollar amount, which was something like $76.00. (This pic is of our first ATM withdrawal of Euros – I blurred out important info…)

* The windows are strange here. There’s a handle on the side that turns ¼ of a turn to open the window like a door or ½ a turn for the window to crack open from the top. Odd, but effective

* There are water shut off valves on wall above sink and toilets in my house and they were in the hotel as well… strange placement.

* The houses around here are beautiful and very old! Most were probably single family homes for very wealthy people years ago and have been converted into multi-family apartments. (Wiesbaden is an upscale town, very wealthy. We have seen stuffed animals in store windows downtown that cost 700 Euro, and that is $1025.19!!!!)

* Most of the cars are SUPER small! They look hilarious to me, considering I have 4 kids and these cars often don’t even have a back seat or any storage at all.

* There are few bathrooms in public, if any, and those you run across might require a fee to be able to use them. This picture was taken in a restaurant we ate in. The sign says that if you are a customer of the restaurant you don’t have to pay, but if not, place 50 Euro Cents in the box.

So, to wrap up the past few weeks since arriving in Germany:

We got here on the 25th of NOV and had Thanksgiving with friends we had met in Columbia a few years ago. We spent 9 nights in the American Arms hotel, ready to be home. We had no trouble sleeping the first several nights after just being so exhausted. But then the time change caught up with us and we needed to “help” our systems adjust so Benedryl became our friend. (I even had to give the boys some two nights… wide awake at 11:00 pm is not my idea of okay, but their systems thought it was somewhere between 3-5 pm…not sure if their body’s were on Mountain time or East Coast time). I also started having my annoying issue with hives again, though until this past Sunday they were not severe. During the time in the hotel Hayden felt Parker kick, and was the first one other than me to feel him. Matt felt him a few hours later. Bailey asked the funniest question: (he’s 5 years old) “When Parker comes out, are you gonna love him?” Me: “Oh yes, I will love him so much.” Bailey: “If he’s not our color, you’ll still love him.” Me: “I sure will.” (But if he’s not our color, I’ll have some serious explaining to do to Matt!)

And we purchased iPhones after waiting years for them. Very pleased with our purchases and haven’t regretted it for one moment!

We moved into our house with just the things we flew here with on 4 DEC and have felt at home ever since. The Army had placed beds, couch and chairs, and a dining set in the house for us to use until our goods come. A friend in Matt’s new unit loaned us enough bedding and linens as well as some curtains to tide us over, and CH Kesling loaned us a TV and DVD player. My what a blessing! Since I can’t purchase coffee yet (must have a ration card for that) Heather gave me some from her house. I think Matt and I would have been growing beans out back if we hadn’t had that gift given to us! He’s going to try to find out about getting our ration cards tomorrow, his first official day on the job.

Our Unaccompanied Baggage (that we had shipped 7 OCT) was delivered 10 DEC and I put our tree up right away. (Our Unaccompanied Baggage in front of our Colorado house being packed for shipping.) (Our baggage being unloaded here in Germany.) Found out that night as I was putting lights on that half of them were out. Matt bought more the next day and we’ve had a beautiful tree up since then! We are lamp people, using overhead lighting very seldom. Being in this house without our belongings, however, has caused us to have to use overhead lights. Now that we have the tree up we can turn off all the rest of the lights and watch TV by the light of the tree, which gives a much more homey feel. LOVE those moments! Oh, and I had asked my facebook friends to pray that my sentimental ornaments arrive unharmed… they did! Not a single one damaged! These are so special to me as Matt and I have been collecting them since we met.

We have had one crying spell with Hayden (8 years old) because he misses his friend, Jeremy. It breaks my heart but at the same time, I know this is part of the experience. He’s learning hard lessons and how to handle them well. He’s written several notes and now I just need to get them stamped and in the mail. We have a trip planned to visit our great friends, the Baileys, for New Years. Stephanie is one of my closest friends and our kids are close as well. I have missed her since she left Colorado ahead of us back in the summer. We’re only 2 hours apart and once I get my van (and driver’s license) it’ll be MUCH easier to visit. For now, we’re excited about getting to see them soon!

I failed my one hour, then my 3 hour glucose tests, so I have to go to a diabetologist. Never heard that word before, but I’m going to see one.

Love the milk… Army milk and its organic. Who knew?!?

Carson lost his 3rd tooth and he says, “I have an “L” in my mouth!”

I got my internet and phone turned on yesterday and feel SO much better. Access to the outside world and the ability to type with both hands makes me happy! It’s the little things in life…

Well, I’ve been under the weather for the past 4 days and the boys have had to fend for themselves for the most part. I think I’m feeling better so we may attempt a walk around the neighborhood. Tomorrow I go to WAAF (the Army post where Matt works) to schedule my diabetologist appointment and to see if I can get my glucometer. Yuck. Glad to be feeling better!

Merry Christmas, my friends and family! If you celebrate a holiday other than Christmas, then Happy Holidays! (But I must say I’m a bit annoyed that so many TV stations are ignoring that this is actually a Christmas Season and refuse to say that word. I don’t mind if they want to add the other Holidays to their well wishes to their viewers, but I wish they would recognize my holiday!) At least they’re still showing movies that say Christmas, like ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas.’ Off my soap box for now!

~Jennifer

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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