The last post, Up, up, and AWAY!, shared the journey from Nana’s house to boots-on-the-ground in Germany. I pick up just 15 minutes after the wheels hit German soil:
We left the plane and began the process of collecting all 19 bags. (We had a total of 23 items plus our seven people, but we only checked 19 bags.) A very kind American woman noticed our situation (also Army) and put I don’t know how many Euros into the cart-machine to help us get several carts.
Once we moved all the bags that we recognized off to the side, I had the kids call out the numbers I had written on luggage tags while I checked them off. It was at that point we realized one was missing. The next part was tedious but necessary: when we checked all the bags in Charlotte they had given me all 19 stickers for the bags. We had to find out which of the stickers belonged to the missing bag. Once completed we filed a missing bag report and they assured us that our bag, which was at that moment in Paris, would be delivered to our hotel within 24 hours.
We had more carts than cart-pushers so it was quite an interesting sight, us moving through the small airport.
Somehow we managed and once through the glass doors we saw CH Lands, a friend from our C4 days. He had brought two other people to help and they loaded the vehicles quite efficiently and strategically, and were finally on our way to the hotel. Oh, I forgot to mention, it was snowing when we landed! We were all so excited to see snow!
I don’t really remember our first few moments in the hotel, as hard as I try to recall them. I do remember the staff telling us they were giving us a room “near the bridge” which would be a big help to us. (It has been wonderful! I’ll explain later.) I think we spent most of the afternoon going through our luggage to see what we needed right away.
While I worked and unpacked Parker built a Lego set. It was a set he bought with Christmas-gift money while out shopping with Nana and Mason, but we decided to not let him open until we arrived in our hotel. He was upset in NC that we wouldn’t let him open it but, as we expected, he was really glad he had a brand new set to build while we were all preoccupied. (I only remember this because I have a video of him thinking Nana!) In this video is a tour of our “Family Room” and the “normal room” connected to it. Our set-up is quite feasible for our family.
We had dinner at the PX: big mistake. The service was (and has been every time) horrible at the Burger King. (Pretty close to “ICE Comment” horrible.)
We went to bed around 7 or 8 and slept all night. I, for one, never had a bit of jet lag. I think we planned our flights perfectly. Matt had about a week of feeling groggy and tired, and about the 7th night he went to bed very early. That seems to have knocked the jet lag off.
On our first full day we took the kids bowling and had dinner at the bowling alley. I have been eating very healthfully (thanks to Optavia) and when out and about I’ve had salads with grilled chicken. That is what I ordered from the bowling alley… it was so-so, at best. I was very much OVER having less-than-tasty salads in restaurants so I decided that the next night on I would use my Instant Pot to make my own chicken and would put it over my own salads!
When we left the bowling alley that night it had started snowing in earnest. Anna squealed and said it tickled. We got back to our room around 8:00 pm and began our second night in Germany.
Above: That night I asked around on a Stuttgart Facebook group to see if anyone had a bunting we could borrow. Sure enough, someone had one we can use until ours arrives in our unaccompanied baggage so little Anna is MUCH more cozy in her stroller now!
Below: This photo was taken from the bridge toward the parking lot.
The next day we walked and explored Panzer (where we are staying) and rode the shuttle to explore Patch. I got a few groceries from the Patch commissary and a transformer from the front desk and proceeded to make my own dinner.
The 31st was a Sunday and we went to Chapel. I really felt drawn to a certain verse in one of the worship songs and I smiled when a church leader got up and asked the worship team to put that very verse back on the screen. He talked about it and read a scripture to go along with it. Just showed me that the Holy Spirit was there and working.
Because we were afraid to try the PX again we bought chicken from a food truck (DELICIOUS!!!) and boarded the shuttle to explore Kelley, the kaserne we hoped to get a house on. (Spoiler alert: we have since learned we will be living there!) We didn’t explore much because the next bus came around pretty quickly and, as it was not only a weekend but a holiday weekend, we didn’t want to get stuck!
Fireworks began sounding around 10:00 and continued until 1:00 am! They were just out of sight but we could hear them. From the bridge I took the following video. If you look really closely you can see fireworks through the trees.
Several nights we played family games and watched movies. I cooked four pounds of ground beef in the Instant Pot and split it in half: I made spaghetti sauce out of half and taco meat out of the other.
On January 1st we decided to buy a 7-seater Volvo wagon from CH Lands and that gave us the ability to scoot around town at our own pace. Our first trip was to a skate park. We enjoyed getting out and seeing a bit of the city we now call home. Anna wore piggy tails for the first time! SO ADORABLE!! While at these skatepark Anna and daddy played on a nearby playground.
Tuesday I made hamburgers in the Instant Pot! Whoever came up with this idea is brilliant!
They were in individual packets so they were juicy and cooked to perfection. (The “H” is for Hayden – he wanted cheese.)
The family had devoured the first batches of spaghetti and tacos so I made another two pounds of each and they ate the spaghetti one day for lunch and we had tacos for dinner another night.
My second big (at least for hotel-living) grocery trip was yesterday and we have three different meals on the menu. I am SO GLAD people suggested I bring my Instant Pot with me as part of my luggage!
That shares about our first week back. I’ll write more soon!