First Full Week of School and Life

Lainey finished her first full week of school today. Last week she only had two days because of a holiday.

The drive isn’t too bad! We are currently using a spare car from the in-laws and its a standard, which I have barely driven in my life. I was taught by a friend in Highschool but never had one as a car so its not a familiar thing for me. After three rounds with Markus sitting passenger and practically having a heart attack each time, I finally felt confident enough to make the drive by myself. It is 51 kilometers each way, so it’s not like a short drive. There are a number of hills in and out of the town where the school is located, and this has only caused me a little anxiety. After today’s drive with no stalls, I have only stalled three times and panicked twice and had to have Markus get me out of a spot. I will say, German drivers do not respect space, especially on hills and will pull all the way up to you even if you are trying to back out of a parking spot, which was my first freak out, since the car that pulled all the way up to me was a brand new Range Rover. I am sure they were pleased when Markus and I changed positions while they were waiting! I did enjoy driving again though and I am starting to get used to the rules of the autobahn.

The first two days Lainey was in school she seemed to be excited because so many of the kids also spoke English. By the end of her first full week those same kids have settled in to watch her learn German and aren’t going to want to translate what is going on for much longer so she is going to have to suck it up and learn the language. A few things that are different for Lainey, other than being in school for the first time since March 2020, are that they require kids to eat the lunch in the cafeteria and they have different classes each day and different teachers for some of the core subjects. Due to Covid, they have what is normally two second grade classes of around 20 kids, split into four classes to help with distancing. Our next move is to find a German tutor with the school that can work with her even more so that she can get a more firm grasp on the language and not fall even more behind in school. She does come home excited that she is the best in the class when its time for English class!

We are getting our container on Tuesday, this is a huge relief! It was randomly selected for detailed inspection when it came to customs, but it was cleared the day later, so that was also something that took some pressure off our minds!

All in all we are starting to settle in, but there is still a long road ahead.

Surprise Visits

On our second weekend in Germany, after a week of trying to adjust to our new time zone and surroundings, I figured we would have a quiet weekend just hanging out with family. We did do that, but with family who drove from six hours away to surprise me!!

After spending a couple hours at the home of some close friends here in Germany, we came home expecting an evening of quick dinner, baths and early to bed! Only we had a surprise! The cousin which we have chosen as Lukas’ godmother had driven the six hours from the Munich area with her husband to spend the weekend with us! She has lovingly called and video chatted with him as much as possible over the past year, but this was the first official visit for her with her Godchild and she just couldn’t bare to wait anymore! Even with all the current Coronavirus regulations in place and an outlook of only being able to hang out at the home of her Aunt and Uncle, they came all the way to meet our special boy!

Lukas was born and raised during the pandemic, at now 14 months old, only in the past two months have we left the house or ventured to other places, and we have done A LOT in that time! It started with selling the house, packing and moving, spending time with friends and getting to finally live a little, the past two months has been a whirlwind for sure. And then one month ago when we sold the house we did the road trip and in two weeks spent time in several states and six hotels! Immediately flying to Germany and now spending time with family he is finally starting to see what pre-pandemic life was like!

Our weekend was spent eating pizza from an Italian place, walking around the town where we are living, having Italian ice cream and doner kebap’s and finally a feast of Yugoslavian food. It’s amazing how many cuisines and options exist in our small village. It was nice to just spend time in the company of family. After a hard year, it was perfect!

Strong Shirt Game

My fashion sense can be summed up very simply by the phrase, I wear statement shirts, not statement necklaces! I was recently folding my shirts from my suitcase and started to count my usual types of statement shirt! Above all, Texas and Texas related shirts are my favorites! As a born and raised Texas girl, these are the most comfortable for me. The past five years while running a local moms group I think it’s safe to say that my follow up category would be Mom related shirts and MOPS shirts. Others would include sarcasm, inspirational, Houston area sports teams, pop culture, Disney and finally, extremely oversized so I can accidentally fall asleep in them!

My Texas and inspirational shirt collection is mostly made up of shirts I have purchased from a local shop The H Crew. Angela over at The H-Crew knows that when she gets a good Texas one in, she can count on me to buy it! Up until now she has even done doorstep delivery, I did live around the corner, and I am really gonna miss that service!!

I also tend to frequent the The Home T which has shirts for all states and lots of Disney, pop culture and sarcastic ones for me! The thing I love most about them at the Home T is their customer service, I have had a few shirts that had defects (when you buy as many as I do, it’s bound to happen) and they sent me new ones and apologies really quickly! On any given day I will have at least five shirts in my cart on their website, it’s a bit of an obsession! The one below I wore for my farewell party as well as on the plane to come to Germany!

Another place I go for fun shirts are various markets where you will find boutique style stores! Similar to what the H-Crew sells but usually each store will have their own variety! Some great markets are Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market and the The Woodlands Jr League Holiday Market. If you can find a boutique like The H-Crew that sells shirts from Texas True Threads, make sure you get on their VIP list!

A wonderful friend blessed me with some new Texas shirts just before we left the state and while I’m not a big animal print girl, I just love them so much! Sometimes you have friends that just get you and also help push you a little bit out of your comfort zone and you find something new you like!

On a last note, my Christmas shirt game has turned into a bit of a compulsion! At first I wanted to have one for every day from Black Friday to after New Years but I surpassed that and now I just try to wear them each at some point during the holiday! I was always a sucker for a new shirt while getting the kids Santa pictures made at The Turquoise Door. When I packed a plastic box to be put in our container Markus was not amused that it only contained my holiday wardrobe! But hey, everything is bigger in Texas right??

A few of the shirts I’ve shopped at The Turquoise Door!

Family

At 9:00 am on a random Wednesday, having five adults show up to drive us home from the airport complete with the above sign, two flags and a couple of cowboy hats was an overwhelming blessing! One of our aunts made this sign for us and sent her husband and two daughters to come pick us up with it! It’s currently the central artwork for Lainey’s room! We love it! In the six days we have been here we have been able to have Sunday lunch with Markus’ brother and family and Markus was able to help one of his cousins move into her new home along with uncle, cousins and significant others! We have seen more and had more family time in six days than in the last 14 months, total! I think we made the right decision! I also think I’m going to be instituting the Sunday lunch for the future!

Good One Mississippi

While driving down interstate 10 in Mississippi there was a sign that flashed something along the lines of “oh you think you need to check that text … bless your heart”, which made me giggle and then later think, ok something is up with that! After a little research I found that Mississippi is using humor to get drivers attentions on the roads. Here are some favorites I found when looking! Here is the site where I found them! The Clarion Ledger – These aren’t your average road signs

Registering in Germany (Meldepflicht)

We had our appointment today to register in Germany. If you are staying in Germany more than three months you are required to register your address (anmelden) with the local office called Bürgeramt. There is a limited amount of time you have to this (14 days from arrival), and is especially important if its needed for the customs clearance of your container, which is our case. Our future house will not be available until November for move in, so we aren’t allowed to use this address until that time. Our current address is that of my parents-in-law, which is not located in the same town as where we will live in the future. To most this wouldn’t seem like a big deal, but this registrations dictates a number of things. Just a few are…

  • Address
  • Registration for the car and license plate
    • Germany license plates are typically a combination of the city + initials + selected number – which would change when our address changes so we would need to wait for that!
  • Where the kids would be required to be in school. Attendance in school is not something that can be taken lightly. As soon as we register, Lainey will be required to be in school. Since the German school year ends middle of July, we just found out that she will need to be in school within a week of registration. This is brand new information to us and has us a little panicked today!
  • Registration will also be used to establish tax identifications for us and also enable us to start health insurance locally.

It seems that of the majority of changes happening for us, Lainey is having to be the one to put herself out first. Even Markus is working from home, although it would be easiest for him. When I asked if I could go to classes with her, I was given a side-eye so I assume the answer is no. I know that she will do fabulous. She’s brave and smart and amazing, but this is not only a huge change, she has also been in online classes since March of 2020.

One awesome thing I found out today is that Texas now reciprocates the drivers license with Germany, so I won’t need to go through the long testing process I had previously been afraid of, I will just need to submit a translated copy of my existing license and pay a fee.

Our lives are just getting started here and registration was the very first step! One down, 100’s to go!

Spargelzeit also know as Asparagus Time!

There is a season here in Germany when white asparagus is available and it’s a big deal! I have always gotten a special plate of food with schnitzel, potato and steamed asparagus in a hollandaise sauce, it’s yummy! But while driving through the McDonalds here we found something new on the menu, for “Spargel Wochen” or Asparagus Week, they have added a Big Spargel Hollandaise which is a burger with white asparagus, hollandaise and bacon. Personally, I think it’s a little much but it’s truly funny to me that McDonalds has jumped aboard this craze as well! Would you try it???

Big Spargel Burger McDonalds Menu Information

Here are some funny articles about this as well!

The Local DE – McDonalds Spargel Burger

I am Expat – McDonald’s give Germans what they really want

And a video! American’s Try Spargel Burger

God Bless Texas, Marriott and Lufthansa

Today was a whirlwind! We woke up early so Markus could go get some extra suitcases, bringing our total for checked luggage to 14 suitcases and 4 duffle bags. I couldn’t tell you what’s in each one, it’s all a blur now! I may never find my toothbrush when we arrive because there are too many places to look! Thank goodness we have to wear a mask everywhere, no one will notice!

Markus was back with two extra suitcases, two extra duffle bags and an assortment of zip ties, luggage locks and luggage straps before 8:00 am. On the rare occasion we use Uber, it’s super helpful and I am going to miss it! I spent the next two hours packing away, making sure each piece was under 50 pounds or 23 kilograms. Markus supervised the whole process and did all the weighing. This is the part of traveling where he and I really clash! He’s streamlined and I’m pack for every possible scenario… opposites in this way! He’s gotten used to having heavy luggage and lots of it but even I have to admit this is excessive!

Lined up outside our hotel room ready to go!
  • 14 suitcases 28” or bigger
  • 4 oversized duffle bags
  • 5 carry on suitcases
  • 3 backpacks
  • 1 diaper/stroller bag overflowing with snacks
  • 1 computer bag
  • 2 car seats
  • 1 booster seat
  • 1 stroller with detachable seat and bag to break it down and store (zipper was broken on this bag our last trip so this is one of the places we used a luggage strap)

When we were married I got the cutest luggage tags with our wedding picture on one side. We only had 12 of those. I asked a dear friend to print out something and laminate for us to zip tie it to the cases and she came through even though she was swamped at work and is currently 48 months pregnant! When we need to be efficient Markus and I can knock out just about anything. We took to tagging and it went surprisingly quick and easy!

I have to send a huge thank you to the front desk and shuttle driver from Springhill Suites, they were amazing! They put another shuttle into service just to get us to the airport and three people came to load the suitcases for us!

Once at the airport it was a game to get suitcases from the drop off outside, to the inside of the doors and then to the check in. Remember the riddle with the bail of hay, the cow and the wolf? This was like that in that we couldn’t leave anything alone, and we couldn’t leave kids alone, so we positioned Lainey and Logan at the check in counter, Lukas and I were outside and Markus was running back and forth. Lukas was inside the airport by the doors while I moved suitcases from outside to in, and Markus was taking those all the way down to the check in, this was he could always see both me and Lukas and the kids. It’s situations like these where we work really well together. Once everything was at the check in, the real fun began!

The check in process was long and we were fortunate enough to have a sweet young new guy that was training with his supervisor, so it there were two agents! She started with passports, and then he confirmed the Covid tests were negative and then made sure we had registered to let Germany know we were coming and where we had traveled. Then began the fun of all our bags! Easy ones first, they did anything with a car seat, gate check tag for the stroller, all carry on luggage that we didn’t want to take with us on the plane was all free. There were 8 pieces! 3 car seats, one stroller, four hand luggage! Then came the bigger suitcases, all the while Markus and I are busily locking and strapping all of them! They said we may need our kids birth certificates and wedding license in Germany as we would need proof to enter Germany since US visitors are currently not allowed. That sent me on treasure hunt to find our important document file (which is actually this great little fireproof and waterproof bag I ordered here from Amazon) because I only had with me what I thought we would need at the airport. One after another our luggage is weighed, tagged and stacked to go to the plane. We were informed that each of us got one carry on, one checked bag and one personal item, but Lukas has a lap baby ticket so that is all he gets. After the free one, it’s $100 for the first addition bag and $287 for any after that! I can’t explain it, I will have to look later, but we ended up is $2122 in extra luggage fees. It would have been cheaper to upgrade to first class and then all our luggage would have been free, only they didn’t have the availability! Long story short, we were able to check in everything, keeping three backpacks, the baby bag. the laptop bag, stroller and two suitcases to go on the plane! This is the lightest I have ever walked on a plane!! 😂

Getting to the airport three hours early, after checking in, we only had one hour to wait before our boarding started and I had to feed Lukas, who immediately fell asleep! He woke up just in time for boarding and spent the first three hours yelling and bossing us around! He has a new molar coming in, so he’s in a super good mood!

When I walked into the airport with the luggage it suddenly hit me, this will be my last time breathing the Texas air as a resident of Texas, so I walked back outside and took a deep breath, a little smoggy from the airport, but good enough! I have traveled out of Texas for more than a month at a time, but always came home to Texas. For nearly 42 years I have lived with in a two hour radius of where I was born. This is a big deal for me, it’s a huge move and I am looking forward to the adventure and I will be writing about it! I will miss Texas though. So much of who I am is that I am from Texas, it’s how I explain the way and reason for things, it’s how I apologize for being loud or over the top, There is an overwhelming pride and arrogance that comes with being born and raised in Texas, God Bless it, I hope that doesn’t make it harder for me to find my footing in a new country!

Last Full Day in Texas

Today is the last day in Texas, and it started early, waking up in an airport hotel surrounded by suitcases and various bags of our belongings! We grabbed a breakfast to go from the hotel lobby and set off to do a weeks worth of appointments set in 6 hours!

Chiropractor! Lainey claimed to work in this office when it first opened! She would sit at the front desk while I got adjusted and Logan made various messes! I will miss Dr Ward and his staff!

Post Office! We opened a Post Office box to avoid having any issues forwarding our mail! I’ve got an amazing friend who will be checking it for us every month or so to make sure nothing needs to sent to us! The USPS doesn’t forward mail internationally, so this was our best bet!

Birth Certificate… turns out I didn’t have an official copy of mine but we have one for everyone else! Fortunately the office is directly across the street from our next appointment!

Doctors office for official Covid Testing! You can’t fly without a negative Covid test. Our pediatrician for the kids recommended we also get the antibody test too since we all had Covid in April. We each did the rapid test and those came back negative. Then we went inside and got the finger prick antibody test to which we were all positive. I had to do some research to understand all of this. Markus said it was going a step too far but we needed to be sure that none of us would test positive in the airport in Frankfurt! If that does happen then we have the antibody tests to show as proof that we have had Covid.

Orthodontist! Lainey got her expander in December and braces a couple months later! She was able to get them off today and a bonded retainer put in to keep them straight! This was a big deal for her! Having braces has matured Lainey right before our eyes!

Prescriptions! We will need enough for three month until we can find new doctors! Insurance said it was too soon to fill them, so it came out of pocket and this was a big expense for our final day!

Sonic. Everyone needs a Route 44 Coke, not really, just every mom from Texas!

Chick Fil A – I sent a Facebook message to our favorite store near the church where I ran a local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) chapter. The one we would go to after meetings and let the kids play while we ate and chatted! For the first time in over a year the dining room is open! All of our visits have always been impromptu, but this time we planned to meet there! It was so nice and felt so normal to sit and chat for what turned into two hours!

Pedicure! This was our second attempt to get this done in the past two days! Who knows when Lainey and I will be able to get pedicures again together, so we got one last one before we go!

H‑E‑B!! I already picked up Walmart and Target, so now was the final stop at H‑E‑B for those last essentials! Things like store made tortillas to snack on the plane, shrimp boil seasoning and Tex-Mex spices for all things from guacamole to enchiladas! And of course we needed to score some Buddy Bucks one last time!

Spending their hard earned Buddy Bucks!

Back to the hotel for the kids and I to pack and pack and pack! Markus will go sell the car at Carmax and hopefully not have too much trouble! We have been living in the car the last three weeks have been gradually cleaning for the past couple days! In fact while we waited at the doctor for test results it was a group effort with the kids using the vacuum in the car to clean the floors!

Maybe we packed this day so full to avoid having to think about what is happening and how much we will miss everyone. Either way, it’s been exhausting! Now we have some packing to do!

Less than a week

We now have less than a week until we are officially living in Germany. In the past week and a half we have driven from Spring, Texas to New Orleans for one night, to Panama City Beach for one night and then to Orlando for seven nights before turning back and coming back to Destin Florida for five nights. Orlando was awesome, the nights in New Orleans and Panama City Beach were too short, and Destin hasn’t been what we expected but maybe we needed some downtime. We have been preparing for this move for as long as I can remember now, at least half our our quarantine. Although, we may have been preparing for it since we met… When you start dating someone who isn’t from the same area as you, moving is always on the table.

Sitting in Destin with the rain, it feels like everything is happening slowly, but when we leave here on Friday we will only have three full days before flying out on Tuesday the 18th. I know there are so many things that I need to do, so many people I want to see one last time, so many things I still want to buy to take with me, how am I ever going to get it all done.

Friends… there are so many people I want to see. Is ten minutes a piece enough? In a time when everyone is scared to hug, how can I hug everyone goodbye, and as a firm believer that if you didn’t give someone a hug, did you really even visit them, will not hugging leave me feeling empty?

What do I still need to buy? I already have 7 large suitcases fully packed and probably overweight, an empty one on the way to a friends where we are storing our stuff for when our road trip is finished and I am still not sure that will be enough. We have five carry on suitcases and each of us has a backpack, do we even have enough shoulders and hands to carry all of it. It feels excessive until you consider its a forever move, or maybe its still excessive… I still need to make a list though, and I am afraid that if I physically go inside an H-E-B that I will end up with another suitcase worth of food!

I am currently trying to track down all the things I need to do, I am on the phone scheduling covid tests, antibody testing, refilling prescriptions to still pick up, setting an appointment to sell the car, get an adjustment with Dr. Ward, my favorite chiropractor, buying more luggage, scheduling last playdates, a birthday party and trips to see family. I have a grocery list at Walmart, Target and HEB because I must be crazy! All of this while trying to relocate all of our luggage and belongings that are still in Texas to one hotel room.

I started this post while sitting in Destin, now I am finishing it while sitting in New Orleans where we will stay the night on our way back to The Woodlands. The next few days will be a whirlwind I am sure, and I cannot wait to write about them! Saturday, Sunday and Monday left!