Another month has gone by since my last update. So while I am again using LJ more than I used to, I'm still not using it as often as I used to used to.
That makes perfect sense to me, and I'm gonna go with it.
The days are ticking by. I'm watching friends post on Facebook about their kids finishing up the school year. My two still have two and a half weeks left until Summer Vacation. My daughter turned 8 a couple days ago. We didn't make a huge deal of it. I gave her one gift (the movie "Frozen") and Ian gave her one gift (lip gloss and a hair bow). We're saving the rest of it until her birthday party. Because her actual birthday was at the start of a three day weekend, I figured her pals would be doing special things with their families, so we're holding her party next week. I already got an e-mail from one parent, saying the date on the invitation has already passed and wanted to know if there was a mistake. Crap. I wrote 21 instead of 31 on her invitation. I now don't know if I did that to all of the invitations.
With Callista's party coming up in less than a week, that will be the end of May. We'll have six months and some before moving back to the States. As of yet, we still don't know where we're going, but we should be finding out very soon. With each passing week, Shawn is getting more and more information about the retention board that's coming up. More and more people are being granted voluntary separation, and that's lowering the number for people who are going to be forcefully separated. They've gone from over 60% of his career field needing to be let go to somewhere in the low 30%s. This is great news.
News that isn't so great stems from Shawn's back. Yes, it's at it again. He's been struggling with back pain since his very first deployment. It'll flare up from time to time, and now is one of those times. He miraculously got a same-day appointment last week after his leg went numb while he was driving to work. Furthermore, instead of our normal family doctor (who is great, but doesn't seem to have a lot of experience with back pain) he got a doctor who had just recently tweaked his own back and wasn't going to downplay the severity of back pain. He immediately wrote Shawn up for no heavy duty, no PT, and no PT testing. At least for a month. His follow-up will determine if it will be extended.
Back to the whole we're-moving-in-six-months thing. I've been thinking a lot about it. There are some people I know who actively try to stay in Germany. At least one of the derby girls has bought a house here. There are other people I know who have moved and miss Germany terribly, terribly much. I think I'm mostly indifferent about it. It's just another place to live, as far as I'm concerned. Please recall, I'm 30 years old and have never, EVER lived in a place longer than four years. So until I know where we're going after here, it's hard to get excited (or disappointed). We might go back to Florida; we might end up in South Dakota or New Mexico or a state where I've never lived. The main thing I miss back in the States is my family and friends. And most of them are in the Southeast, the rest in the Northeast (with a few scattered here and there across the rest of the country). But if we move to a place where I have no family or friends nearby, it really wouldn't be much different than living here. Minus the language barrier and plethora of beer and weiners, of course.
I will say, though, there are things I'm going to miss.
1a. The Cleanliness - Germans are serious about not being ghetto. Their yards and neighborhoods are a source of pride, and they take care of them. Trash runs once a week, and we are only allowed to put trash out by the side of the street the night before trash day. Everyone is responsible for cleaning the sidewalk and edge of the street in front of their houses. This means weeding between the cobblestones, sweeping, and even spreading salt and shoveling when it snows. I have the end of my driveway and along my fence to take care of since there is no sidewalk directly in front of my house. Yards are nice, junk is kept cleaned up, and it's just nice to be able to walk/skate/bike through the neighborhood and not see trash or messes anywhere.
1b. The Clean Air - Germany is the solar capital of the world. You can't walk outside without seeing solar panels on buildings and set up in fields. There are wind turbines all over the place too (though not quite so many as solar panels). This lends to being able to take a deep breath outside and... *sniiiiiiifff* Oh. uh... Wow. They must have fertilized the fields today. *ahem* Well, most days, it's a fresh and clean breath of air. We happen to live in a village right next to farming fields, so the smell kinda comes with the territory.
1c. The Clean Roads - No debris, no trash, no road kill. That doesn't sound like much, but when you're so used to a clean road that ONE PIECE of trash is glaringly noticeable, that says a lot. The Autobahn is dangerous enough with the high speeds some people take. I've been cruising at around 90mph in the right lane and been passed like I'm parked. If there is even a little bit of debris in the road, you know what kind of hazard that could present. Therefore, Germans need to be on top of keeping their roads clean. Safety first, ja?
2. Driving - This holds hands with 1c a little bit. It's nice to drive on clean roads. But there are also driving laws here that make a commute much more enjoyable. Ever heard of "priority roads"? Check this out:
The white and yellow sign shows you are currently driving on the priority road (we'll call it PR for now). The white sign below it shows the intersection you're coming up to. Your road is the wide curve; the little dash is a road connected to the intersection that has to stop. Likewise, if you're at a stop sign with the little white sign under it, you know you have to stop while the road coming from the left is the PR and doesn't have to stop. It may seem a little confusing on paper, but in practice, it works splendidly. That, and round-abouts (or traffic circles). Traffic doesn't stop, yet everyone slows down and uses the rules of the road to go about their business. I've been here for three and a half years, and I've never seen a wreck in a traffic circle. They work. And, well, the Autobahn is fucking fun to drive on. Sometimes you just need to roll down your windows, crank up the radio, press down the pedal, and go 110mph.
3. The Scenery - It's beautiful out here. In my area, there are no really big cities. If you're in the midst of large buildings, pick a direction and drive for no more than ten minutes. That will land you in rolling hills, small mountains, farming fields, solar farms, trees, and hiking paths. And the occasional castle. Seriously, it's pretty cool to know I can just hop in my car and drive to a few different castle ruins right here locally. I can think of three right now that I can drive to (and back home) without having to top off my gas tank.
I'll leave it at that for now. I see another post of what I won't miss coming up soon, but there are still other things I'll miss here, and I'll share that later too.