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It seems so long since I wrote the previous update. We flew from Baltimore to Raleigh, got picked up by Shawn's sponsor and a volunteer, spent time in the base hotel, dropped our stuff off in our new house on base, had Christmas with Shawn's family, a second Christmas with my family, made it back to our house, got Shawn's truck from the port, got the kids registered and into school, paid for my car to be released from the port (to be picked up in the next few days), and ready to receive our household goods on Monday.

And, boy, was there a lot to all of the above.

Life has been busy. I'm just glad that we're facing it together.

I blogged about our trip from the States to Germany, so I guess I can do the same now that we’re headed back. I admit that I fell off the blogging bandwagon in the four years we lived in Bruchmuhlbach-Miesau. Hopefully, I still have my flair.

I should back up and start this on the day we left our house. Shawn got us booked in on-base lodging for the ten days before our flight. My wonderful friend and team mate, Jeniece (aka Half Pint Havoc) made room in her day to come get me, some of my luggage, and both of my cats while Shawn followed us to the hotel with the remainder of our luggage. The kids were in school, the house was empty; our time in our little village was done. Half Pint, Ms. Sippi Queen (another team mate of mine), and I arrived at the base hotel before Shawn. I carried the cats out of the bitter wind and into the hotel lobby while Half Pint and Queen unloaded the luggage from the car. I was greeted with a non-greeting: “You can’t bring those cats in here; this hotel does not allow pets.”

Excuse me?

Even though Shawn had booked a pet-friendly room, someone managed to overlook that small detail and put us in the wrong hotel. The one we were supposed to be in was on an entirely different base, on the base that would have been much more convenient, actually, since the kids go to school on that base, and I have friends who live there to boot. I had to carry the cats back out into the icky weather and stop the girls from unloading the car. Shawn had not yet arrived (he had stayed behind to speak a little longer with our landlord), so we put everything back in the car to stay warm while we waited for him. I went back into the hotel to figure out if we could possibly be transferred to the correct hotel. Shawn showed up while I was waiting, so I went back out to the girls and my cats.

When Shawn came back outside, he informed me that the other hotel was completely booked and would be until the day we were scheduled to fly. Of course. I had to find a cat sitter and fast. One of the girls suggested yet another friend and team mate, Debby (aka Dolly Voodoo). She’s a cat people. I called and asked. She was willing. Until she said yes, I didn’t realize just how freaked and stressed I was over the ordeal. Such relief flooded through me. My scritty scrats would be cared for by someone I trust. Good. Shawn had gotten our room keys, so he helped us get everything unloaded from Half Pint’s car so she and Queen could leave. He took care of getting our stuff up to the room while I drove the cats to Voodoo’s house… on the base where we wanted to be in the first place. Oi.
Everything else went pretty smoothly for the rest of the day. That is, until it was time for bed. The hotel room had a bedroom off of the main living and kitchen area; Shawn and I had lordship over that. I pulled the bed out of the couch for Callista the Bed Hog who can dominate a queen size. But when Shawn removed the cushion from the love seat, there was no bed to pull out for Ian. Shawn pulled on his jacket and went two buildings over to request a chair swap. We aren’t picky or pushy people; we just didn’t want our seven-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter to share a bed. That’s not too much to ask, right? “We’ll swap it for you tomorrow.” *FLAIL*

Ever consistent, Callista sprawled as far out as she could for the first couple of hours in bed. She was sound asleep and would not budge when Ian tried to push her back over to her side. He moaned and whined every time her knee touched him. I had to keep getting up to pick her up and place her back on her side, but as soon as I would tuck her back in, she’d flop out again. I ended up putting them sideways on the bed and rolling a pair of pillows in a blanket to place in between them. Callista did not climb the mountain I made, and that was what finally allowed Ian (and me) to sleep.

The next nine days were largely uneventful, and I have nothing to report.
Then we have today.


Or should I say yesterday. I didn’t have the laptop plugged in as I was blogging, so battery power had to be conserved. Yesterday was pretty normal as far as hotel checking out is concerned. Shawn started getting a little stressed, but that was to be expected, and I tried not to hold it against him. We got everything loaded into the rental car and to the terminal. I took the car to go get my cats from Voodoo. I considered giving them baths, but it was far too cold, windy, and rainy for that nonsense. Once I arrived with the cats, Shawn took the car to turn it in. The place was within walking distance, so that made it very easy. As we checked in, we found out that the flight would be delayed. For just over six hours. Joy.

It wasn’t all bad, though. There is a play area for kids in that terminal, and a bank of chairs on one side actually pulled out into loungers. We laid claim to the three closest to the corner. It could have been better, though. The jungle gym equipment in the play area was roped off (just on one side, but roped nonetheless) with signs saying it was off limits due to necessary repairs. All of the parents had to keep reminding our kids to get down, get out, get off of there. Well, almost all. There was one family who didn’t come near enough the area to see the signs, so when their four kids came screaming in, they didn’t have adults to tell them that they weren’t supposed to be ducking under the ropes and climbing on the equipment. The smallest one climbed all the way to the top of the structure, inside the rocket ship, and was literally (not an incorrect usage of the word) screaming at the top of his lungs. I think he liked how it echoed inside there. Luckily for us, that started happening shortly before we headed over for pet check-in, so we didn’t have to put up with it for long.

Food had been eaten, toys had been played with and put away, cats had been walked (unsuccessfully) twice, and it was time to go upstairs to get us two-legged creatures through security. One great thing about having kids: they get you front-of-line privileges in some places. In this case, as soon as we finished going through security, we walked along to a waiting area that smelled strongly of recycled farts and soldiers (no, I’m not being redundant), and instead of having to wait, we were ushered right to the line to board since we were travelling with children. Woot! Once those of us who were PCSing and those travelling Space A finished boarding, the soldiers who had been on the flight got back on. They were on their way home from Al Udied. Most of them were Army, but I spotted a couple of Marines and Airmen in the mix.

The plane itself was old fashioned and tight. I barely had room to stretch my legs under the seat in front of me, so I know Shawn didn’t have that luxury since he's nearly a foot taller than me. We were placed in the center four seats between the aisles separating us from the three seats on either side of the plane. In an effort to keep the kids apart, Shawn and I gave them the aisle seats with Shawn sitting by Ian and me by Callista. After takeoff, we were given a dinner meal. I made the smart choice of not getting the meat platter. Never get meat on an airplane. Shawn and the kids ended up with chicken slathered in some kind of red sauce with boiled chunks of potato and mushy mixed veggies. I got tortellini in white sauce, sprinkled with diced sun-dried tomatoes. It was actually pretty good, but I’ve been spoiled with Shawn’s cooking, so I found myself wanting some bit of spice. The dessert left much to be desired. It tasted like a very dense, lemon-flavoured sponge. I only had one bite of mine.

Sleeeeeeeeeeeeep. Yeah, right. The kids conked out. Shawn made to do the same, but he took a little longer to settle. Me? I couldn’t. I tried. I was tired. But it was just too impossible to get comfortable enough to sleep. I also have a bad habit of twitching when I can’t sleep. I scratch at imaginary itches, I tense muscles, I’m just a huge pain in the ass and a terrible bed partner. So instead of doing that to both Shawn and Callista, I put my ear buds back in and finished watching the movie I had started before dinner: “Transcendence.” Good movie, by the way. I rather enjoyed it. When it was over, I forced myself to be still and managed a few hours of sleep.

The flight took eight hours. That was crazy! The itinerary said it would be ten!
Because of the delay, Shawn had called ahead and cancelled our hotel reservations. It didn’t seem worth the hassle to get our luggage through a hotel, into a pair of taxis, get to a hotel (that Shawn wasn’t even sure would accept the cats after what had happened with the first one), sleep for just a couple hours if we could manage, and then turn right back around to return to the airport. Then it turns out we’d be in this airport for a little longer than we anticipated. No worries. The USO would take care of us.

It took a veeeerrry long time to get through Customs. Because both of the kids wanted to use the bathroom as soon as we got off the plane, we were close to the last people in the line. The upside to that is once we got through, all of our luggage and our cats were already waiting for us in baggage claim. Score! I grabbed two luggage carts and the cats as Shawn snatched our bags off the carousel. As we left baggage claim, Shawn pushing a cart with three suitcases and a cat, me pushing a cart with three suitcases and a cat, all of us lugging our carry-on bags on our backs, we went through a set of double doors…
…and were greeted by a large gathering of people! They were holding up signs and ringing bells. Welcome Home! We’re Proud of You! Thank You for Your Service!

I figured they were there for the soldiers. It made sense, and I thought it was nice. But then I realized these people were making eye contact with me. And saying these nice things to me. And taking pictures of my whole family. I was handed a goodie bag filled with candy, a bottle of water, a handmade card from a child, and a flyer explaining who they were. It was the work of a volunteer group in Maryland. They wanted to thank not just the soldiers, but their family members too. Awww! I was really touched. What a great group of people.

We made it to the USO room. The cats and kids were parked at a bench directly across the hall, and Shawn and I pushed the carts into the reception area. I parked my cart against a wall for Shawn to handle after he had checked in so I could go back and keep an eye on my four littles. First order of business was to remove the soiled piddle pads from the cats’ carriers and replace them. Callista helped me with that. Just as I had closed the second cat into his carrier, Shawn was back with two bits of information. Thing one: pets are not allowed into the USO apartment. Thing two: I had to go show my ID and sign in.

I wasn’t touching anything until I had washed my hands. Callista agreed. We buzzed right past the USO desk and went for the bathroom beyond, both of us holding our hands forward and up. The lady behind the desk was not having it. She chases us and intercepted us as we waited for the bathroom to open up. “Ma’am, you can’t come back here until after you’ve shown ID and signed in.” I explained my plight. It was not good enough. I could not use her bathroom. She gave us hand sanitizer and insisted I join her at the desk.

The rest of the stay at this airport has been me and Shawn taking turns sitting with the cats. All four of us went outside to walk them, but since messes had already been made in the carriers, it didn’t surprise me that the walks were unsuccessful. Shawn has taken a few walks around the airport (once coming back with food). I’ve stayed largely in one spot, trading off to take the kids into the Family Room of the USO apartment for a little while.
As of this writing, Shawn has the kids in the Family Room while I’m sitting in baggage claim 14 just outside the USO apartment. Though my body feels as though it’s half past noon, the clock insists it’s only 0630. Our next flight is scheduled to leave in three and a half hours. Thankfully, that one will only last just over an hour. Though this trip was not nearly as painful as the one to Germany four years ago, I am so done with airports for a good long while.
I have some fairly interesting text conversations during the day...

Shawn: I'm relying on you to help the [Words With Friends] board.
Me: (plays the word HELP) I just HELPed the board. HA! hahaha
Shawn: You need psychological HELP.
Me: I'm not okay. I'm still laughing.

Rob: What are you doing on this lovely Friday?
Me: Hiding candles under dildos.
Rob: You always do such fun things.

Raptor: (shares this link to giant inflatable Christmas tree in Paris that looks more like a butt plug)
Me: That. Is. Glorious.

Me: (paraphrasing) You want my riding crop to whack people at the end of year party since I won't be there to do it?
Loveless: haha Awesome.

Me: My cat brought home another bird. But I didn't know it. And it's been out there for a long time. Long enough that the whole damn thing has decomposed. I could potentially have an entire skeleton for you if you want it.
Truckstop: YES! I'd love it!

I love my husband and my friends.
I have two topics to talk about in this entry, and while neither have anything to do with the other, they can both use the same title. Nifty.

Item One: DerbyCollapse )
Item Two: HomeCollapse )
Some things have been going on around here. We're down to five months 'til we move back to the States. Though we still haven't been told where we're going, the official list of possible locations has come out. We're looking at Cannon, NM; Peterson, CO; Vandenberg, CA; and Hurlburt Field, FL. Of course, we're hoping to go back home to Florida. Fingers crossed. We should find out no later than the beginning of August, though it really should be any day now.

Our last derby bout of the season was a week ago. It was a double header. The Night Terrors played a mixed team called the Expendabelles. We won: 127-124. The Wreckoning played the Rockcity Rollers from the Netherlands. Rockcity won, but I can't recall the score.

Stein and I made the awards again. Best Blocker got a glued-together wall of foam building blocks that had the silhouette of a skater and the line "Block it like it's HAWT!" painted on it. Best Jammer got a jammer panty with a pinwheel stuck to the front. MVP got a store-bought tiara, a scepter made from bamboo sticks, topped with skate wheels and bearings, and embellished with ribbons, lace, feathers, pom-poms and pipe cleaners (each of the four were different), and sashes that proclaimed them "Princess MVP." Best Ref got a parade-style bead necklace with a black and white striped whistle laced into a heart-shaped bracelet as the pendant.

071214 awards

For the Night Terrors, Truckstop Trixie got MVP, which was her goal, so props to her for realizing said goal. Mel Practice and I got best blocker and best jammer, respectively. We're both rookies, so I thought it was a pretty big deal. It was also the Night Terrors' first win ever, so that was an even bigger deal.

This morning, I met up with two of my derby sisters (Truckstop and Dayz-E) and played at the skate park in Kaiserslautern. It was a lot of fun. Shawn and the kids were there too. The kids skated some, but they eventually got tired of it and wanted Shawn to take them to the playground. Maybe next time, I'll carry Shawn's skates too and help him get used to having wheels on his feet. I know I get pushy with him sometimes, but I think it would be great fun to have him participate in the derby stuff by being a ref.
Yeah, you read that title correctly. Tomorrow, I'm getting up at the ass crack of dawn, boarding a bus with my team mates, and leaving the parking lot at 6am for Utrecht, Holland to bout against the Dom City Dolls. This will be my second bout, my first away bout.


I'm on two of the line-ups: one as a blocker, one as a switch jammer/pivot with D'Seat.

This will be an all-derby post. If you're not interested in the sport (you're wrong, and) you can skip by this entry.
They see me rollin"Collapse )
At the end of my previous entry, I said I was thinking on typing up a list of things I won't miss about Germany. Sounds awfully negative. I'm still going to do that, but I'm going to intersperse it with things I will miss. I have three (read: five) things I've already listed about things I will miss, and I want to make sure with this, I'll match one-for-one wills and won'ts so I'll come away with more things I will miss. It"s worth a shot.Collapse )
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.
Eleven days after I said I would do a follow-up post to the previous (for more pictures of Keukenhof), and I'm here to tell you this post will NOT be about that.

Most of you follow me on Facebook, so you already know about this. But it's good for me to put an entry here if only for my own memory. Ian nearly killed himself last week. He's fine now and still has a week and a half 'til he goes back to school, though he insists he's ready to go back now.

Here"s the book on what happenedCollapse )