Well. It’s been a minute (ahem, about 3 months) since my last post. Things got real after the kidney stone episode and moving into the house. But now that we’re so close to being “settled,” I figured it was time to dust things off and capture some of the highs and lows we’ve experienced since arriving here in June. Why don’t I just break it all down, month by month?
Logan and Brady started school in mid-August, so we had a lot to do to prepare – doctor’s visits, registration, and back-to-school shopping! We skipped all of that last year since the boys were enrolled in at-home learning, and it was high time for some fresh duds. Between the outlet mall in Metzingen and the Milaneo mall in downtown Stuttgart, each boy found a few things to get excited about. My new friend Jen hosted a wonderful brunch the Friday before classes started, and I was so grateful that the kids had a chance to meet other high schoolers. Of course, all this was happening with the backdrop of Ralph getting that dang kidney stone and needing two surgeries, both with 2-night hospital stays.
Luckily, the kidney issues cleared up in time for us to proceed with a weekend trip to Colmar, France at the end of the month. Until then, we’d only gone on day trips so this was a real treat. I booked us an Airbnb right in the Tanner’s District. It was on the top floor of a narrow old building and filled with charm! Both boys were really excited about getting another country under their belts and jumped right into tourist mode, trying new foods, marveling over the blend of German and French vibes, and snapping pics with their phones. One of the highlights was a Segway tour of the neighboring village of Eguisheim, where we cruised through vineyards and cobblestone streets.
When we got back on Sunday, we went straight to the new house to meet the landlord and get the key. Needless to say, this was such a relief after over 3 months of living out of our suitcases. We’d really had to work some magic getting the contract signed, but it was nothing compared to finding the house in the first place (that’s a story in and of itself!). Plus, it was Ralph’s first time seeing the home! Glad he trusted me to pick it out, haha. We spent the last two days of the month cleaning the place in between having our unaccompanied baggage delivered and managing the various craftsmen coming to do work on the property.
We’d been fortunate to line all the deliveries up after getting the key, so two full days were spent unloading all of our things into the house. With 40 steps from the street to the front door, I managed to hit 100 flights of stairs one day – but that was nothing compared to the movers carting big boxes and heavy furniture! All of the “good stuff” (aka the big furniture) arrived on Day 2. We found sheets and blankets and made the beds, exhausted and overwhelmed – but at least I’d found the coffee pot around 3 pm! I would say to remind me to put a giant star on that box next time, however, I’ve decided that it’s best to pack my new Bialetti moka maker in my suitcase. I’m not taking any chances!
As much as I would have liked to continue plowing through the boxes, that would have to wait because we planned a trip to the Bodensee (Lake Constance) for Labor Day! You might be wondering why the heck would we decide to go away so soon after moving in, but after all, we had anticipated moving into a different house in mid-July. Oh well. We were grateful for the break! And as an added bonus, our friends Tiffany and Rachel were joining us. We explored the entire island of Lindau and managed to cross through 3 countries in 20 mins on the way to dinner in Liechtenstein. More on that trip in a future blog post!
When we got back, Tiffany came to stay with us for a few days. Of course, the house was in no shape for visitors – but Tiffany’s no stranger to overseas moves. She went into beast mode and with some music and a little wine, she helped me transform the living and dining room into places where people could actually eat and sit. It was like night and day! Then she took care of the boys and our crazy puppy while Ralph and I went to Würzburg overnight to pick up the new car (which is sadly no longer with us). We wanted to squeeze in a little more girl time before Tiffany had to fly back to Maryland, so we met up with Rachel again, this time in Mallorca. For three fun days, we basked in the sunshine, got massages, and soaked in the natural beauty of this Spanish island.
Upon my return, it was REALLY go time. All that travel had me feeling behind the curve on settling in. But would I change anything? NOPE!
Before I knew it, October was here – and along with it, MORE TRAVEL. I spent the first 10 days in the US on a road trip around the Southwest with 6 of my best friends from my time in the Air Force before visiting my friend Lauren in CA – and it was magical! We managed to hike in Canyonlands, Zion, and Arches national parks before relaxing for a few nights in Sedona. We even did a glam photoshoot on the red rocks, complete with fancy dresses and fake lashes. Worth it!
Towards the end, I was anxious to get home to continue the mission. By then, fall had truly set in and the hours of daylight lessened by the day. This highlighted the fact that we desperately needed to get more light fixtures. Because here in Germany, it’s common for tenants to take their light fixtures with them, leaving just wires in the ceiling and lots of darkness. In fact, they often take their kitchens with them, too. Wild, right?
Anyway, we had officially entered the “buy stuff for the house” phase. The lawn was getting craggy and I started itching for some houseplants, so we set off for the local home store and IKEA with our VAT forms in hand. Day by day, we crossed things off the to-do list.
Still, as the bigger picture came into focus, it was the little things that threw me for a loop. Like opening a box and finding a bunch of junk that I really wish we hadn’t packed. I thought I’d done a good job paring things down, but the random gadgets and doodads continued to vex me. Ralph’s enormous free pen collection, dozens of water bottles, and cords of all types had no place to go in a house with only one closet. Ugh.
To make matters worse, our “new” (since Nebraska) couch arrived covered in mold, along with my two favorite rugs. Why couldn’t the junk be left exposed to the elements? WTF?
We’d unpacked all the boxes and had a liveable space – but with crap everywhere and nothing on the walls. #progress
And just as I thought I had some time to dig in and fight these battles, the unexpected happened. We were involved in a serious accident on the autobahn and Ralph’s brand new car was totaled. We rear-ended an older German couple when traffic slowed down unexpectedly and fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. I had to have my lip sewed up and Ralph and I both had a bit of bruising, but nothing that time couldn’t heal. The boys were unscathed and remarked that being in the back seat, it just kind of felt like bumper cars. The front seat was a whole ‘nother story, though – my ears were ringing for a week after the airbags deployed and I’ll never forget the smell of the gunpowder. So…back to one car. Good thing we picked a house that was walkable to shops and public transportation!
By the time November rolled around, the medical bills were rolling in. Ambulance rides, ER visits, etc. And Ralph had to undo all the “doing” of buying a car here – things like canceling the registration and turning in the plates. Not a fun time at all. We are in the thick of dealing with the insurance company, and while it looks like everything will work itself out, it’s been A LOT.
On the house front, I’m feeling much more optimistic! It helps that I discovered a few cool websites here that offer free shipping AND I got a handyman to install the light fixtures and hang up pictures. The couch problem has been solved thanks to German Wayfair, and the boys finally got the elusive Idanas wardrobes from IKEA that sell out in a day – because I figured out how to reserve them using my broken German! Small wins…or maybe medium wins? Either way, I’ll take them.
As I finish up this post, we’re just back from a fantastic trip to Barcelona for the Veteran’s Day weekend. Showing the boys one of my favorite cities has made for memories I will treasure for a lifetime. And that reminds me of why we made this big leap over here in the first place – to explore more of the world together.
Whew – so that’s it. That’s what we’ve been up to over the past few months. Hopefully, this is the start of getting back on the blogging wagon!
Our Adventures By the Numbers:
- 5 countries visited (France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Spain)
- 12 crates of stuff unpacked (well, mostly unpacked)
- 1 moldy couch
- 2 moldy rugs
- 1 broken barbeque grill
- 3 car accidents (yes, REALLY)
- 2 surgeries
- 7 visits to the dentist
- 4 ambulance rides
- 1 statement at the police station
- 2 trips to the gynecologist (more on that later)
- 1 shady cab driver
- 2 visitors
- 16 house plants potted
- 5 trips to IKEA
- 3 lederhosen
- 1 dirndl
- 100 kg of apples picked
- 36 jars of homemade applesauce
- 8 light fixtures installed