Saturday, February 12, 2011


We left for Amsterdam Friday morning. We were heading out to see Citizen Cope perform and enjoy a weekend away for Adams 24th birthday. We woke up bright and early so that we could beat the traffic and spend as much time as possible exploring. With our GPS and snacks in hand, we were on our way.

The morning started off a little stressful. We couldn't get the GPS to turn on and I had accidentally left the Map Quest directions at work (oops!). So we got half way down the street and we had to turn around. Adam had to run inside and print out directions, just in case we needed a back-up. A huff, a puff and a few choice words later and we were back on track.

Adam drove the first two hours of our 5 hour trip. I had gotten my international driver's license the week prior to our trip, he decided not to. Since he legally couldn't drive outside of Germany, I took the passenger seat first so that I could rest until it was my turn to take the wheel.
The land that we saw as we drove through Germany was amazing. We had never been to that part of the country and we soon discovered, we were missing out. There were points where the altitude was so high that our ears popped. We would look over the side of a mountain or drive over a bridge and it looked like you could see the whole world. The land went for miles and miles and you could still make out the details in the little villages. There were vineyards for miles. We passed through a town that seemed to be nothing but vineyards. It was awesome. It took us about an hour and a half to get through Germany. The speed limit or lack there of really seemed to be working in our favor. As we reached the border (or frontier as the Germans say) I was shocked. We were in Belgium.

I had no idea that were were going to be taking a brief trip through Belgium. How exciting, three countries in 5 hours! It doesn't get much better than that. Belgium was amazing from what we could see. The views were so pretty. Did you know that they speak French and German in Belgium? I didn't. It was so exciting. I could actually read the signs!! After 6 months of not understanding the ads and billboards, I felt like genius. I'm so happy that I took 5.5 years of French. Who would've known it'd ever come in so handy.
Belgium is a jam-packed country. I mean, they crammed as many little houses into the big cities as they could. The main streets were completely lined with houses three and four stories high. The architecture is beautiful. Everyone should visit Belgium. I'm excited to go back and actual explore the cities.
It took us about 2 hours to make it through Belgium and into the Holland (The Netherlands). We could tell right away that we were in Holland. The French and German ads quickly disappeared and Dutch billboards filled their spots. Another tell-tell sign that you are in Holland is there unique irrigation system. Tiny little canals fill the meadows of Holland. There are many parts of Holland that are actually below sea level. The canals are filled with water from the North Sea and other waterways. It's actually really cool and I thought it was pretty. As you get deeper into Holland the canals get bigger.
We drove for an hour and a half in Holland. En route to Amsterdam we passed the typical Holland land markets. Dutch windmills were everywhere. The land seemed to be half big city, half farm land. I loved it because it reminded me of Oklahoma. It is so awesome how you can each culture shine as you drive through the different countries. There were moments when we were driving where I was thinking this is exactly how I would envision Holland to be. . .just beautiful.
As we approached Amsterdam, the mood changed from little farm town to huge, booming city. There were people and bicycles everywhere. They have trams that run through the centrum every 10-15 minutes. It seems that there are no lanes in Amsterdam. Basically, people drive where ever they can get through. I gripped the wheel and just followed the car in front of me. This was the busiest city that I have ever been to full of tall buildings and canals. Amsterdam is built on top of huge canals. You can even travel from place to place via boat.
I was in panic mode driving through the city. It took us 30 minutes to drive about 8 blocks and our hotel was located behind a huge area of construction so I had to navigate around that. When we finally got to our hotel we had to pay 35 euro to park. That is roughly $50 for one day(be thankful for free parking America). Apparently, Amsterdam has the highest parking rates in the world. Who knew?
We checked into our hotel. We were staying at The Backstage Hotel. It is set up to look like you are backstage at a concert. The halls are lined with posters signed from tons of bands. The overhead light fixture in our room was made out of a snare drum, the main lighting were stage lights and there was a vanity that had the mini light bulbs all around it. It was really neat. The only downfall was the stairs. The staircases in Holland are a signature in their culture. They are extremely steep and have the tiniest steps I have ever seen. Lugging you suitcases up and down those things was quite a feat but well worth it.
After we got settled we immediately went exploring. We were a stones throw away from where the Citizen Cope concert was going to be played. It literally took one minute to walk there. We walked past the tiny venue and we could hear, what sounded like, a sound check in progress. That was one of the high points of our trip.
We walked around the centrum for three hours. We shopped and took pictures of the beautiful buildings. We wanted to see everything we could in one day so we walked and walked. We bought a hand painted Christmas ornament (this is one of my "things,"cI've decided to buy ornaments in every city we visit for an "around the world" Christmas tree), post-cards, and a few souvenirs for our family members.
Amsterdam is everything you hear about. They have the famous coffee shops and Red Light District but that is not all that there is to see. Adam and I wanted to take in the landscape and architecture.
After a long day of walking and exploring, Adam and I decided to go to dinner. We wanted to eat before we went back to the room to get ready for the concert. We went to this cute little Italian restaurant called "Papinos." It was so quaint. The food was delicious and extremely inexpensive and the little host man was so happy to be there. I had a three course meal for 15 euro! I love Amsterdam.
We made our way back to our hotel so we could get ready for the show. We took a quick 30 minute nap and changed clothes. We were all ready to go at around 7:00. The show was to begin at 7:30. We got to the venue and realized it was really tiny. We were some of the first people to arrive. We walked in and bought Citizen Cope shirts and then got drinks and headed to the stage. I marked our spots. I was leaning against the stage to the left of his microphone. Just then, in walks Clarence. We walked right over to him. He was taking pictures with a few fans and then he had to go get ready for the show. I walked back the stage and reclaimed our spot. We waited for 40 minutes and then it was show time. By the time he came on stage the tiny venue was packed with people. He played all of my favorite songs. It was seriously one of the best concerts I have ever been to. It was absolutely worth the 5 hour drive.
We decided to go back to the room once the concert was over. We immediately fell asleep. Walking around for hours and hours has a way of wearing you out! I'm glad we decided to rest because the next morning we were ready to go again.
The next day we checked out of our hotel and packed up our car. We had paid for 24 hours of parking so we wanted to shop and check out some other touristy sites before we left. We walked down to the Red Light District. We wanted to see it and I felt like it'd be safer to go during the days. It is just like the describe it. There are half naked girls standing in tiny little rooms behind glass doors underneath a red light. It is the creepiest thing I have ever witnessed. There were literally blocks and blocks of red lights. That is definitely one thing I will never understand.
We finished up our day by shopping for Adam a birthday present. We got him a really nice jacket that said Amsterdam on it and went for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Then just as quickly as it began we loaded up in the car and headed back for Deutschland.
I have to say that I am really starting to appreciate the opportunites that we have living abroad. I never thought that I'd be able to pack up and go on little weekend trips to other countries. I am really thankful for this adventure. For the first time since we moved here, when we returned to our little house, I really felt like I was home.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Purple Palace

This week was fresh for me. It was my first week back to work since my return to the homeland :). I started waking up at all random times (the down side to jet lag). I woke up at 3:00 am on Monday and couldn't go to sleep. So, by noon I was ready to crash. Thankfully, I had some diet dew to uplift my spirits.

I made it through that first day back and slowly but surely my sleep began to regulate. I did, however, start waking up 30 minutes earlier than my normal schedule (pre-trip home). I decided while I was home that I was going to lose some weight when I returned to Germany.

Weight gain, unfortunately, is a secret that no one wants to reveal about the German lifestyle. A lot of women that move over hear gain weight mostly because of depression/stress/homesickness (my reason), lack of sleep and the food/beer. The latter was not the case for me. I have tried 1 sip of beer and have eaten very little German food since we moved here.

I decided to take matters into my own hands. Oddly, I am a lot less sad since returning. I feel like I had a revelation while I was home. So, I'm really trying to live it up and see all I can see while I'm living here. I have been doing excellent. This whole weight loss thing is such a state-of-mind type of battle. You have to be in the right mindset or your plans will crumble. I finally feel like I'm in that mind set, thank back to the good stuff.

The best thing about this week was the progress I made on our home decor. From previous pictures, it was pretty apparent that I had taken some pretty big steps toward making this rent house our home. All of the rooms, with the exception of two, have all the wall art hanging, the decorative pillows fluffed and overall are quite cozy. The two rooms that are, or were, in question just happened to be the rooms that my husband, coincidentally I'm sure, inhabited.

The thing is that men, in general, don't care about the appearance of a room. My husband certainly would be satisfied without any decorations as long as he had a place to sit, food to eat and a computer/T.V. for entertainment. He'd pretty much be as happy as a clam. Needless to say, the rooms that he deemed "the man cave (s)" were just that. A bland, often times messy, excuse for a living space....until I took them over, that is.

Don't get me wrong, I am totally up for him having his own space. He needs it. When we moved into our house in August he decided that he would make one of the bedrooms on the second floor his office/man cave. I tried and begged and begged and tried to get him to decide on a theme or something to decorate his "man cave." This pretty much ended with him buying one poster, just one, that displayed how to order a beer in all of the different countries.

I was open to doing any decorations that he'd like; football, beer/steins, medieval (ie..suits of armor or shields), music, anything really. He didn't like anything that I was throwing out there. I'm pretty sure he just didn't want to exert the effort to actually look for things he might like to put into the room. He hates any kind of shopping including shopping for him.
Nevertheless, he decided (honestly, it was completely his decision) to move his man room up into our massive third floor. This way when we get a couch/T.V. up there he could multi-task while playing video games.
I was relieved because it was going to be a lot easier to decorate a room that was 12x12 than one that was 24x32 or something ridiculous like that (It is really big). So before I even left for home, I started looking for nicknack's and a bed. I found a bed a week or so before we went home. It is a twin bed but it will totally work as a guest bedroom, while we are here. I also had already decided on a theme and color scheme, the theme would be owls done classy and the colors would be purple/grey/white.

Owls are an obsession of mine and I have been obsessed with the color purple since I was very young. I had strayed a little bit from it because for years I had a purple room. I found the purple and grey pillows I wanted right before I left but didn't buy them. So, Tuesday I went to the Germany store to buy them. Unfortunately, when I got there they were gone. I did find some new ones that I liked so I went ahead in bought them.

In Germany, the stores have no ordering system. So, if you find something you like you have to buy it then or you may never see it again. My mom would have a huge problem with this because she likes to think about it (love you mom).

I bought all the purple and grey decor that I could fit into my car and came right home and put it all together. The room is not completely done yet but the bed is in good shape, the purple curtains are hung and the sitting bench has some definite potential. I bought stuff while I was home to make my own wall art (a new hobby of mine). It won't be here for a few more weeks because I had to ship it.

I am really excited about this room. I love decorating. It is definitely a passion of mine. Plus, my best friend Heather might be coming to spend the summer with me and this would make a perfect room for her. . . I can't wait!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 30, 2011

A Little Life Update

It has been so long since I updated my blog....almost 5 months, a lot has changed since then. This blog will be the first of many more, in the upcoming months, but for now here is a recap of the time that has passed.

August - September

August and September were long, depressing months for me. I was still maladjusted to the European lifestyle and could not shake my overwhelming homesickness. I had just started my job and a fitness program. I was in the worst training EVER and still had only one friend. Needless to say, it wasn't a fun time. I worked through it slowly thanks to hours of convincing from my mom and chocolate...lots of chocolate. The one good thing that happened in September was auditioning for a musical, which I made. Other than that, it was pretty grim. Lets just say, I am glad that September has come and gone.


October was when things began to look up for me. I continued my workout program, to no avail. I was finally on my own at work, thankfully and the musical began rehearsing and I met a really nice girl, Becca. She and I were instantly friends. We have the same interests and values. It was refreshing...were there really nice Americans in Germany? Who knew!

I got to experience Frankensteins Castle. It was really neat. The Germans know how to do Halloween. The funniest thing about the Frankenstein trip was that I got a taste of the German sense-of-humor, first hand. It was remarkable. Apparently, Germans think slapping is the funniest thing ever, right up there with Will Ferrell and Betty White. They had these comedy skits, that I didn't find humorous at all. The actors would slap each other and the German people just laughed and laughed which made me laugh and laugh. It was a really cool experience. Plus, Becca went with me and Adam which opened the door to friendship. Success!

The final high point in October was actually on Halloween. I got to see the German kids in my neighborhood. They were precious. First of all, the don't say "Trick-or-Treat." They sing a little jingle, which I thought was especially cute. I had no idea what they were saying but it was precious. The other different thing was the children's fascination with the mini or fun-sized candy bars. They were amazed. I didn't know this but, in Germany, they don't make mini candy bars. The Germans, that participate in Halloween, hand out the normal size bars. The kids thought it was the coolest thing. It's the little things in life.


November was my favorite month in Germany, to date. First of all, ever other week in November has a military holiday wrapped in there. Fact! Who wouldn't love November, right? Also, this month involved many firsts for me: my first musical rehearsal, my first Veteran's Day off, my first Thanksgiving away from my family (which shockingly wasn't that bad) and my first ski trip to Austria.

Veterans Day was a great day. Living in a military community makes it so much more alive. I mean that being around Veterans on a daily basis reiterates the importance and the impact that they all have made. I am grateful to have experienced that day in the presence some of the best men and women, ever. Thank you Veterans.

My first Musical rehearsal was a little bit overwhelming. I knew instantly that it would be a good fit plus I got to hang out with Cory and Becca. I love having friends. I had deeply missed having friends with my same interests...meeting Becca was like a german-fied version of my best friend Heather Fowler. Plus, I got to sing and dance (and...err act?). Thank you, KMC Onstage, for that.

Austria came next...I ♥ Austria. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, should got to Austria. Add it to your bucket list. Adam and I decided to spend our Thanksgiving in Zell am See, Austria, mostly on a whim. Adam knew I was dreading the holiday season and my homesickness was still hovering. I had mentioned taking this trip once before and he said cool. So, one day on my lunch I went and signed us up without any thought (How cool is it that I can go sign up for a four day trip to Austria on a whim? I guess that is a perk to being here). Let me just say, Austria is beautiful. It is by far the prettiest place I have ever been. Keep in mind, it out ranks Singapore and Bali, Indonesia on my list of places I have been. That is pretty darn impressive. We took a charter bus to Austria on Thanksgiving day.

We woke up to snow here in Germany, the first of many days like this. It took us 8 hours to get to our destination. The Austrian hotel we were staying at prepared us a 3 course Thanksgiving dinner. So sweet considering Thanksgiving is obviously an American holiday. The food was amazing. I tried pumpkin soup for the first time. It was fabulous!

The second day was our first ski day. I found out, quickly, that I can not ski. I'm terrible, like beyond bad. I fell so many times and at one point took my skis off and hiked back up a mountain because I didn't think I could make it down. Even though I fell a lot I still had fun. I ended up being separated from Adam so I went into this little pub on top of the glacier. There I met this nice couple from Holland. We sat and talked and I told them about America. They told me about Amsterdam. In the middle of our conversation, this group of drunk, Austrian men came up to us and bought us shots of Schnapps. Austrians love their Schnapps :). Adam had joined us right as the Austrian men approached us. That was the perfect ending to my very first ski experience.

By the third day, I was so sore that I decided to for go skiing and venture into the little town of Zell am See. This was the best decision I made. Adam still wanted to snow board so we split up. Luckily, one of the guys from our group decided to go into town with me so I didn't have to go alone. We walked and walked and walked that day. It was the prettiest town I have ever seen. The town of Zell am See is structured around a beautiful lake and sets right under the glacier. It is amazing. I shopped for a few souvenirs but mainly focused on taking in the little sites that the town had to offer. I loved it.

We made the track back home on that last day. It was a great weekend in Europe, I great weekend indeed.


December was a whirlwind. I was busy, busy, busy. The copious amounts of snow in combination with work, working out and the musical made for one busy/frantic Stephanie. It seemed like there was a work delay every week in December. I'd get to work two hours late, because of snow, have to run around training co-workers, get off, run to the gym, run to musical rehearsal and then run home and sleep. It was pure madness. I liked it though. It was a distraction from being homesick and I got to decorate for Christmas.

Awe Christmas. I loved having my own home to decorate. I ended up having seven decorated trees. Yes, seven. Seven trees of all shapes and sizes big, small, green, gold it was beautiful. I also got some custom German decorations: a hand-carved snowman that smokes his pipe when lit, a huge, musical, wooden advent calendar and some plaster ginger bread houses. I even cooked my first Christmas dinner. Adam and I skyped with the family when opening our gifts. It was like we weren't even missing... awww technology how I love thee. I really enjoyed it. Our first Christmas in Germany was a huge success.

The musical opened, a week late due to snow, with a bang. There were extreme highs and extreme lows through the rehearsal process but in the end we all pulled it together. Sadly, I was only in the show for one of the weekends. I blame the snow for my short run. Nevertheless it was fun while it lasted. Plus, I met some really fun girls. Girls that like to have baguette fights in the grocery store and eat dinner and breakfast on the floor (you know who you are). Thank you ladies for your kindness!

The best part about December was planning my return to Oklahoma. I was due to return in January so I was excited with anticipation for the whole month. Woo!


The first week of January was quick. I was due to return home the first weekend of January, if Space A permitted. Unfortunately, it did not. It was a disaster. Let down after let down, cancelled flight after cancelled flight led the Willis' to buying overly expensive tickets 12 hours before the commercial plane took off. Plus, I had to fly alone for the first time. Blegh.

It turned out to be okay. The only set back was a 2 hour turned 7 hour delay in Memphis. Apparently, the snow followed me from Germany to Oklahoma and Memphis. It didn't matter I was tired and cranky and just wanted to be home. Luckily, after 5 hours of setting on the runway in our plane and a 55 minute flight (yes, I waited 7 hours to fly 55 minutes, ironic huh!) I made it home. I wanted to kiss the red dirt and the nearest QuikTrip. I ♥ you Tulsa!

I stayed in Tulsa for almost 3 weeks. It went by way too fast. I made trips to MacTown and Indianola to see my friends and family. I hung out with the cutest, most entertaining, 3-year-old ever. I ate my favorite foods, shopped at my favorite stores and made some memories with the people that know me best. I love Oklahoma. There is definitely no place like home.

So here we are nearing the end of January 2011. It has been a good year so far. I'm excited to see what 2011 has to offer. It was fun catching up! I am making it a personal goal to stay onto of all my adventures. I will do my best.

♥ Stephanie

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finally Settled...or getting there atleast

Day 46
Well it has been awhile since I updated my blog. I have been so busy since the big move! On August 4th we got the keys to our house. I was so excited I barely slept at all that night. We woke up bright and early had breakfast at our hotel and headed to Waldmohr to meet the movers. We were expecting an all day wait for them to arrive but, much to our surprise, they were there before we were!

I hustled into the house, snapped a few before pictures and stepped out of the way so the movers could start unpacking my long-lost things! With each box they brought in, it felt like Christmas. I hadn't seen any of my stuff in almost 3 months and at least half of it hadn't even been opened yet (thanks to wedding presents/new furniture that we bought before the move).

The first things that the movers brought in were my couch and chaise lounge. I was so excited to see my furniture. They started bringing in box after box stacking them in the rooms they thought they went in. When it came to our brand new mattress and box springs there was a bit of a mess. The couldn't get our box springs up the stairs. I was panicking. I told them that we had to get that bed upstairs. They kept trying and trying but nothing budged. Finally, they took the light fixtures off the wall and told us they might scuff the newly painted walls. We said whatever you have to do just get it upstairs. After what seemed like hours, they finally forced the box springs upstairs. The walls have huge scratches on them but we sleep peacefully in our bed!

The movers left and I breathed a sigh of relief. We had all of our stuff and we were going to be able to sleep on our new bed. Adam and I immediately got to work unpacking/
unloading/folding and cleaning. After the first day, we had made a small dent in a huge project. We ended the night with almost the entire kitchen put together.

In the midst of the unpacking and organizing, Adam was still required to go to work leaving me with a lot of the work. I didn't mind as I like to decorate. Adam put together a lot of our our new furniture on his spare time. He is quite the handy man. I did all the laundry that had been stored, washed every dish we owned and lugged boxes up and down the stairs to the appropriate rooms. It was hard work but so worth it.

Two trips to Ikea, two trips to Mobel Martin (a massive German home interior store that I love) , multiple trips the BX and a week of unpacking and our house was really coming together. In the midst of my manic unpacking sessions, I got a call about the job I'd applied for. I was one of only two people that had made it to the interview stage. I had two days to prepare for the interview. I was really excited. I really wanted that job.

I was really depressed through this entire house moving phase. We didn't have internet or my car for almost two entire weeks after we moved in. Both the internet company and the car salesman had given us specific dates on when we would receive their services. Both of them were at least a week late. No internet meant no contact with my family which is not okay with me. No car meant stranded, again, and this time I was 20 minutes from Ramstein, not six. A few breakdowns and my husband couldn't take anymore. He figured out a way to get me temporary internet so I could at least talk to my mom and sister. He is so sweet.

Finally, the internet and car came and I was happier than ever. I went to the job interview and felt really good about how I did. I found out two days later that I had gotten the position. It is by far the best opportunity I have every had. There are mulitple opportunites for growth and it is in a field that I am really interested in, Financial Management.

I have started training and I think I'm going to love it. I work with some really nice people and I get to wear jeans! I'm really excited about that. I got to go on a mini-shopping spree for a new work wardrobe. I plan on dressing for the position that I want...the boss...not the position that I have :).

So it seems as though things are really looking up here. Adam am I are planning a few weekend excursions including: Poland, Paris and Frankfurt (to see One Republic!!!). I joined a spouses group for my husbands job and I am also planning on joining the Gym and taking a few workout classes. I'm excited for this opportunity even if it's hard.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Random Things

Day 21

Random things I've learned so far:

  1. Stores only stay open until 8:00 PM.
  2. Sunday is considered a family day.. NOTHING is open on Sunday to give employees time with their loved ones.
  3. There is a 19% tax on everything you buy.
  4. Exercise is a huge part of the German culture. They take family bike rides/walks all the time.
  5. There are nature trails in basically every village.
  6. Residents and visitors must recycle everything. The household 'trash' cans are smaller than most US bathroom trash cans. They can only be emptied every 2 weeks.
  7. When you buy beer or any bottled beverage you pay a glass deposit. You get the deposit back when you bring the empty glass bottles back.
  8. The tip is already included on bills at restaurants.
  9. You are charged for water at restaurants.
  10. It costs the same amount for a coke as it does a huge beer.
  11. Germans make the best taffy!
  12. Gas is EXPENSIVE!!! It costs about $100 to fill up a small car on the economy.
  13. There are huge vineyards everywhere.
  14. You cannot display anything related to the Nazi's. It's against the law in Germany.
  15. Cars have to be inspected every year and before purchased or sold to make sure they are in proper working condition for safety and the environment.
  16. Most Germans speak English.
  17. There is no air conditioning anywhere.
  18. You pay for heating year round. This reduces the cost when you are using it. Utilities are VERY expensive in Europe.
  19. You could be sentenced up to 5 years in prison for failure to yield to the right-of-way.
  20. There are trees everywhere. It is such a pretty place.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Testing Faux Pas

Day 14

July 26, 2010

Well today was the day of my drivers license test. I woke up early so that I could cram for a few more hours before the test. It was schedule for 12:15. My sweet husband had set it up for me 2 weeks ago and I had been studying since. I studied all last week and was trying my hardest to cram in a few more signs and rules of the road before my test began.

For those that don't know, Germany has at least 100 signs that you are expected to know in order to safely operate on the road. There are general rules such as: the right-of-way in round abouts and speed limits can be mandatory on the autobahn or they can be suggestions. There are different signs to indicate which is which.

It is very confusing at times. Especially, when there are random signs in German. This weekend, for example, my husband and I ventured into Homburg, Germany. We were in search of a DVD store so we could buy a movie. The closest store was Media Mart. Luckily, it is only 5 minutes away from where our house will be. We typed in the stores address into our GPS. We easily found the store. The problem arose when it came time to park. We couldn't figure out if it was legal or illegal. The signs are so similar and well...foreign. We decided to wing it. We drove underneath the store into a parking garage. We knew that certain spaces were for certain people. They have specific spaces for elderly people, cars with children, and pregnant women. We ended up parking in the back end of the parking garage all the while hoping we were legally there. Luckily, we were and we safely made it out of the parking garage and back to our hotel.
These sort of things happen all the time. It is very stressful when you don't understand the language on the signs. Nevertheless, I had been cramming for at least an hour when Adam came into the room. He had gone to visit our soon-to-be home to get the appliances signed over to us. We decided to go to lunch before my test. We ran to the car and got ready to leave. Just then Adam pulled out my test appointment sheet. He had made my test appointment for 7:15 am. Unfortunately, I had missed the test. We raced to the testing center and were informed that I would have to wait another week and a half to take my test....testing faux pas, indeed. On a positive note, it gives me an extra week to study and look for a car.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting Settled (A Strenuous Task)

Day 8

I did it! I made it a week, all alone (well not technically all alone...but you get my point). No mother to cook for me, no sister to play Yahtzee! with and no niece to chase up and down the stairs. It wasn't an easy week but I'm proud of myself, nevertheless.

I believe the last time I wrote we were in the midst of a house hunting crisis, car-less and irritated, to say the least. Well, I'm proud to report our situation has changed immensely.
On Friday, Adam and I frantically called all of the houses within 30 minutes of his job. I was determined to get some appointments lined up so that we could at least see a house or two. We set up an appoint for a little townhouse. This one we had already called a few times but could never reach the landlord and never got any return calls. We were just happy to get to look at the house. We got a ride to Kaiserslaturen to check out the house.Upon arriving to the little neighborhood, I noticed that all the townhouses were really well kept. They were all painted light pastel colors; blue, green and yellow. Their flower beds were full of bright flowers and each house had its own garage (This is a huge perk in Germany and is often times the exception rather than the rule).

When we entered the house we were shocked, not so much by the interior but more so, by the huge group of people waiting to see the house. This is a real problem right now. There is a huge shortage of rental properties in Germany so every property generally has more than one interested renter. It is the job of the landlord to choose who gets the place.

As we went further into the house, I realized I loved it. It was three stories with hardwood floors throughout. It had 4 bedrooms and 2.75 baths. The kitchen was newly renovated and the living room was open to the backyard. Unfortunately, I was not the only person that loved the house. As we ended our tour, the landlord told us there were 6 families interested in the location. He said he would choose who got it and let us know.

Our 1/6 odds were a little disheartening but Adam and I prayed and decided to let the Big Man take it from there. We enlist the prayers from a few family members and close friends and waited to hear the verdict.

In the meantime, we decided to call and set up appointments for Saturday. We had to keep our options open just in case our dream house became another families dream house! We called about 50 people, which lead to 2 appointments. Obviously, Germans our not great about returning phone calls.

I also decided to call a realtor, Gudrun. She'd been referred to me by a Sergent Adam and I had met. He said she didn't charge too much and she could get us into a good house, quickly. I was at the point that I'd have spent as much money as I had to alleviate some of the stress of this move. She returned my call that day and sat us up an appointment to see 2 houses on Sunday.

It looked like we had a full weekend of house hunting.

Friday we decided to rent a car to get around until we could find something more permanent. We went and bought a Garmin, GPS, to help us navigate. This little thing is nothing short of amazing. It is my German friend to date.

The next morning we got up bright and early. We went and got some food and while we were eating we found out that we did not get our dream house. I was pretty bummed about it but decided not to let it get me down. We had an entire weekend full of houses to see. I was hopeful that there would be the perfect one for us.

Upon arriving at our first appointment, we noticed that once again, we were not the only potential renter's. We waited at the first house for 45 minutes and the landlord never arrived. We had stacked appointments an hour a part so we ended up having to leave without even seeing the home. Apparently, its pretty common for Germans not to call and cancel appointments if the home has already been rented. They also don't answer the phone when you call to see if they are on their way...we unfortunately did not get this memo.

The landlord's failure to show at our first appointment made us a little late for our second appointment as it was 20 minutes away and we had gotten lost. We ended up knocking on the door of an elderly German lady who did not speak one bit of English. She looked frightened when she noticed us. She was gardening outside and came to a frantic halt as we approached her house. She kept repeating haus, haus....she probably thought we were burglars or something. We ended up spouting off "thank you" in terrible German and trying to find our way.

Once we finally made it to the house. There was a family that had beat us there by 2 minutes. Unfortunately, they signed their contract within that two minutes leaving us in the same exact shape that we were in the day before.

We left feeling defeated and bummed. We decided to go and have dinner and give up on house hunting for the day. We went to the Macaroni Grill to dabble in a bit of Italian cuisine. Once we finished we headed home and prepared for the last day of the weekend and hopefully a home-finding-day!

On Sunday, I decided to check out the house listings and see if we could possibly squeeze in another house tour. There was a new house listed in a town about 30 minutes away. The house was 4 bed room 1.75 bath and 1,200 square feet. Adam and I decided to check out any houses that seemed like they could work no matter how far away they were.

We drove down gorgeous country roads going up and down hills everywhere. The villages that we past were so cute. I really enjoyed the drive. We arrived at the house and were so excited from the outside. There were flowers everywhere. The front of the house was immaculate. We entered the house expecting the inside to be amazing. The view from the back balcony was great but unfortunately, the current tenants did not keep the house up. It was messy and cluttered. I could see the potential but I didn't think that it was worth an hour commute everyday.

We left the house just in time to meet up with the realtor for our first housing appointment with her. She brought us to an amazing house 15 minutes off of base. It was 1720 square feet, 4 bedroom 1.75 bath and had already been inspected per military guidelines. It had a huge living room, backyard and a wet bar. I loved the house from the first second we stepped into it. It was the best we'd seen yet. We could have this one without a doubt, which was relieving. Adam loved it and wanted to take it right that second. I wanted to wait and see the other house that Gudrun had set up for us.

The second house was pastel pink and right on the street. It was not that pretty from the outside but the rent was 300 Euro cheaper than the house before. Upon entering the house we saw an office on the right, hardwood floors, and a huge bathroom off the side of the kitchen. The living room was half the size of the house we'd seen before, but nothing we couldn't deal with. We went up stairs to a horrible layout of bedrooms, nasty carpet and no bedroom doors. I was ready to leave at first sight of the second floor.

I told Gudrun we were not interested in this house. She told me that these were the only to private listings available in our price range and that I could have the night to think about whether or not we wanted to take one of them.

Adam and I climbed in the car and started discussing the first house. We decided we did not want to risk losing it. I called Gudrun and told her we'd take the house. She was so pleased with our decision that she knocked 100 Euro off of her finders fee. We ended the weekend with a feeling of relief. We get our keys on August 4th and our furniture is being delivered on the 5th. It was definitely a successful weekend!