Monday, September 30, 2013


From the time we arrived till about the end of September we just felt like we were in total Limbo.  We were going out everyday to look at houses.  It was taking forever because we sort of arrived right after the big PCS (permanent change of station) season.  Meaning most people had already moved out/in by the time we got there.  So the good houses were few and far between.  And when we did find one we liked, it was gone in a matter of hours.  The military has a website where they post houses/apartments for rent.  There are no realtor fees involved so it's really nice and easy, but stuff goes quick.  So if I didn't check the website constantly, I would miss out.  It was super frustrating.  We finally got sick of only checking that website and started looking at local sites as well.  The problem with those is that a lot of times there are realtors involved.  And they want a finders fee of at least 1 months rent.  Period.  We were trying to avoid that at all costs.  But after about 3 weeks we realized that we might end up biting the bullet and paying a realtor fee.  The military gives us 30 days to find a house.  From day one we didn't see that as a problem at all.  A week would go by, then two, and we were starting to worry a little bit.  Was I being too picky?!  Should we just settle on a house?! It was a hard decision.  And when we found one we liked we had to act quick.  So we passed up a few that would have been ok.  But I wanted to hold out a little longer.  Another problem was that, because of the heavy military influence in the area, the temporary apartments off base were able to charge an outrageous amount (because the military would actually pay it).  So we were shelling out $2000 every 10 days to stay at Trudi's (which was supposed to be reimbursed, but because of the government shutdown that happened during this time, we didn't get reimbursed until sometime in December!).  After almost 4 weeks at Trudi's, a spot in Temporary Housing on base opened up and they had us move into it.  I actually liked it a lot better!  It was so nice to be on base and so close to everything, and they even had daily House Keeping.  We ended up finding our house that week so we only stayed there for one week.  But it was nice to see the difference between off-base and on-base.  When we move back to the states, we will be sure to sign up for Temporary Housing on Base in advance!  Anyways, we finally found a house at around day-26 of our house hunting!  It was a free-standing house (a lot of the houses are duplexes) that was completely enclosed by gates.  I loved that the kids could play freely and I didn't have to worry about them running into the street!  And we have 3 levels and a basement.  The basement is an old root cellar, so we can't store much down there or else it will get moldy.  But it's nice for a few things.  The house itself was renovated in 2007 and built around the walls of an old barn.  It has a fun mix of old and new, which we liked.  Overall, we felt like we found a great house (especially compared to some of the ones we had seen!).  Our only drawback was that it was about 15-20 minutes from the Base (or any grocery store). But we are getting used to that and learning to plan ahead a little more ;).  So we moved into our house around October 7th.  It was so nice to have our stuff back after 2 months!  And then the unpacking began!
One of our many stops at Mcdonalds while house-hunting
Exploring Ramstein Village and getting some Gelato
They thought it was pretty cool to walk around in the fountain with their rain boots.  They ended up being completely soaked (no surprise there)
I love when Nathan is with us and I can sit and chill with Isla while he chases the 2 crazies around :)
Hanging out at Trudi's 
Also at Trudi's...
Trudi's village had a bakery not far from the house.  We often went for a jog and came home with fun stuff to replenish our expended calories ;)
We made a few trips to Ikea that month (so glad to have Ikea and H&M around!)

Ok I have to talk about Violet for a minute.  This poor girl went through some rough stuff that first month.  When we arrived in Germany, she had what looked like a yeast infection or diaper rash.  Little pimples all over her bum.  I kept trying to treat them and nothing seemed to be helping.  In fact they were only getting worse.  We decided it was time to potty train her--again.  We felt like she was ready, and we also felt like her bum needed to air out and heal.  So I figured, why not?  I'm either home looking at houses online or driving around looking at houses.  Ok so it ended up adding another stressful element to my life at that point but we felt it was necessary.  She did ok with the potty-training.  But the rash wasn't getting better.  We finally took her in and the doctor treated her for folliculitis with some antibiotics.  Poor girl.  She had at least 5 massive pimples on her bum and inner thighs. And they were super hard and just filled with pus.  We would give her a warm bath and try and squeeze them and the pus would literally shoot straight up to the ceiling (tmi?).  She was totally traumatized from it all.  The doctor said we were right to try and squeeze them, but it was awful.  So the antibiotics were a life-saver.  And they did the trick.  But also while at that appointment I remembered to ask the Doctor about a patch of scaly skin I had just noticed on Violet's scalp that morning.  She took one look at it, asked a couple questions, and then told me it was Ring worm of the scalp.  What?!?  Seriously!?  My guess is that she got it from playing outside at Trudi's.  There were a ton of mangy cats running around that place.  Anywho.  She was put on an oral anti fungal for the next 6-8 wks!  Ugh!  Poor Violet.  Poor me.  It was a rough month for us. (not to mention I was uber paranoid about my own scalp being itchy that whole time!)

Violet earned a Kinder Egg every time she went stinkies on the potty!  Lucky girl!
The next few pictures were just of the kids and I playing outside of the Vehicle Registration building on the day that our van arrived!  It was a glorious day.  We were so excited to have more space again!  Nathan had purchased another car about a week before but it was much smaller a tight squeeze for our family of 5.

Friday, September 13, 2013

My Birthday

 My birthday came only a couple weeks after arriving in Germany.  Nobody (including myself) had really had time to think about it.  But my sweet Aunt Kristel and cousin Michelle drove 2 hours to bring me a birthday cake and some goodies!  They even packed an entire lunch.  We had a fun time together and I really appreciated them coming.
This was actually the 2nd time Kristel drove to see us!  She was so awesome.  The kids loved playing with her.
After Kristel and Lelli went home, we headed down to the BX for dinner at the Macaroni Grill.  I know, you are thinking, you're in Europe!  Go somewhere new and exciting!  But honestly, after the crazy couple of weeks that we had had, it just felt good to be at the Macaroni Grill.  It felt like a little piece of home.  We all had such a great time together.  It was the perfect finish to a nice birthday.

 Later that week we went to the big Ramstein Bazaar that is held yearly.  They had 2 huge hangars filled with vendors of all kinds.  A lot of fun.  Although next time we'll go without our crazy kids.  Some friends of ours, the Shields, who are living in Frankfurt came down and met us there.  It was fun to see them again.  They were actually in my parents' ward in Virginia before coming to Germany.  They will be leaving here in the summer.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Weekend in Gernsbach

Our second weekend in Germany we drove down to Gernsbach, where my Aunt Sonny and Uncle Sigi live.  It is in the heart of the Black Forest and so beautiful.  My cousin, Benji and his family also came for a few hours.  It was nice to see everyone.  The kids got along fine, despite not being able to communicate ;).  We have plans to work on that (teaching the kids German).  But it is soooo hard.  We mostly just spent time at their house, but on our way out we visited a couple of popular sites nearby.