Monday, April 21, 2014

R E T I R E D ... on to the N E X T chapter

It was a beautiful day for our family.

Jim is officially retired- going out with a beautiful ceremony.
His buddies put an incredible amount of work into making it just right.
The only thing missing was Justin and the rest of our family.
Other than that, it was quite perfect.

It was all about family.
While they {every higher-ranking official in his squadron} did not want him to retire early and did not think it would be approved, all who spoke agreed that Jim not only talk family- he lives it.

It was mentioned several times how important it is for us to be close to Justin.

The picture just doesn't look right without him in it. There is a hole and he was definitely missed.

Jim apologized to Justin {it's on video... Justin hasn't seen it or heard it yet...} for missing his first two seasons of football.

Now that we are moving back, we don't have to miss another season. We get to be there and we can't wait to get everyone settled.

It is not easy being a military kid. Both Justin and Ty had adjustments being moved mid-high school but neither missed a beat- we could not be more proud of them and the men they are becoming.
Our friend in attendance told us afterwards that as the guys filed in and sat down- there was one who sat right behind them. As he looked up and saw it was actually Jim retiring he said, "Oh man- he was one of the cool ones."

I couldn't agree more.

So funny as you know they get the email about the retirement and are told to show up even if they don't pay attention to who it is retiring.

His Chief said Jim was a future chief- no doubt. With that, there was applause in the hanger. He then went on to say that he chose his family over his career- something that he admired and a lesson he would take with away from knowing Jim.

I could not have been more proud to be his wife.
While he would have preferred to not speak, Jim had no choice but to thank everyone and speak for a few minutes. He did a fabulous job especially considering he would rather do just about anything that speak in public.

We were blessed to have close friends who took time out of their schedules to be with us.
It is a special time for our family.

Today is our last full day in Germany.
Tomorrow, we get on the plane.
Let this new chapter begin... we are SO ready!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

one hundred {thousand} M I L E S

And we have driven every one of them.
We hit six digits on our last Europe trip- our trip to Prague. 

Just over 50,000 miles driven in Europe. 

While we didn't see everything we wanted to see, we covered a good part of this phenomenal part of the world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

so much to S A Y

We are out of our house.
We are still working to get out of Germany.

It has been one rough week. Really rough week.
I am reminded of our tough days getting settled in Germany. It has not been much easier wrapping things up.

The only difference is the prize of our home, friends and family on the other end.

My plan was to be blogging all week but, our Internet is horrible. We can't get on our laptop at all. Luckily, Ty's Mac works. The problem is I'm struggling using it- change is hard and I feel the need to let my brain rest.

We are excited but tired.
Tired of thinking.
Tired of working.

Ready for this transition to be over and the next stage of our lives to start.

Right now, working to get out of our phone(s) is proving to be a nightmare. Our house phone said they will be charging us through July even though we are no longer in our house. Even worse, the new renters move in May 1st.

Isn't that double dipping? Shouldn't it be against the law?

I got my hair cut the other day and the German girls in the salon told me the phone company can not do that to us. She tried to call for me. The system was down and they were told it's the law, we have to pay. They said to just close our bank account- they can not take the money.

Our landlord called for us to get it stopped- she was told the same thing.

Jim went to the bank to close our account. Our bank told us {on base, by the way} that if we close it and any company attempts to take money out- they will open it back up, GIVE them the money, then charge us the $ plus LATE fees.

Unbelievable.

It's no wonder Americans leave here with lawsuits and in limbo with German companies.

So, I went to the local office downtown this morning to finish out this phone account and return the router so we don't get charged even more.

After a 40-minute wait, the man told me I have to mail the router through the German PO, he can not take it. 

Strike one. 

Then, he said he can not do any customer service but he would help write a letter to see if they would consider canceling our account before July. He wrote the letter, then faxed it to the company for me. With the company logo on his building, I was still confused as to why he could not address my issues.

Then, let me know he usually charges 10 Euro {$14} for this service. But, since we do not know if this will help, he waived the charge just for today.

Seriously?

I told him at this point- I did not care. I would like to pay the three months service {we would NOT be receiving @$55/mo} and be DONE with Kabel Deutschland. He let me know, unfortunately he could not help with that either.

He could/would not accept my payment for my account.

Strike two.

It was all I could do to stay calm.

Until I got in the car and realized he mis-typed our e-mail address. E-mail is the only way for them to contact us. I should have checked it, but I WROTE it out for him. Think I'm back to square one.

Strike three.

Our cell phone company is even worse.
This is only part of why we are so exhausted.

Seven nights to go...

Monday, April 7, 2014

prague and the C Z E C H republic

March was definitely madness in our house.

April started out at a fast, furious pace as well.

As I type this, there are five Bavarian men working like crazy.

Screeching rolls of tape, a dialect of German I can not understand and crumpling  packing paper are the sounds that fill the rooms of our emptying house.  

The real packing started the last Tuesday. We were allowed to ship 500 pounds ahead of our household goods shipment.
Towels, sheets, pillows, dishes, scooters and of course, Legos are all en route to KS.
The real fun started this past Friday as the majority of our household items were boxed and snugly placed onto crates headed for Haysville, Kansas.

This afternoon, we will be left with only the dust and mess from almost three years in our Mackenbach home as they plan to finish up and sign off on our shipment in the next few hours.
Great friends have welcomed us into their home for three nights until we can move into temporary housing on base.
Wednesday, we will ship our van.
Thursday, we will move on base.

We fly out April 22nd.

Opting not to spend the weekend in a half-filled house waiting to be cleaned, we took off Saturday for our last quick trip.
Our destination was the {huge} city of Prague in the Czech Republic. In just twenty four house, we were we able to peek at another beautiful city while checking another country off our list.
Planning to drive and come home in a day, we took the advice of friends and drove the bulk of the trip (four hours) to Grafenwohr, Germany where we stayed in Army Lodging for the night. It was great advice as we did not have to wake up at the crack of dawn and all got a good night’s sleep.

Our plan for Prague did not go quite as anticipated.

We are actually just fine with that.
Prague is not a driver-friendly city.

It is also a big city. You have to be careful where you park with gangs and theft a huge problem. We saw several cars with boots attached for those parking illegally. The rules are strict, the language a barrier. We are not big-city people to start with and noted how grateful we were to be on the same track.

On top of those factors, our Coleman was on day two of an ear infection that landed us in the ER between the hours of one and four {am} the night before. On a good day, he’s not thrilled to walk. Today, we decided to not even pick that battle.


Rather than pay more than $30 for safe underground parking to fight kids in a city they did not want to be in, we did what we like to call a drive-by tour. Jim's superior big-city driving skills were put to the test with busses backing up in front of us and trams coming from every direction.

All in all, we survived.
I think we caught a little of the beauty, but were once again happy to get out of the craziness of another big European city and back into Germany.