Tuesday, July 1, 2014

We made it safely across the pond...

I told Big R on several occasions last week that my life felt like a circus. His response was, "it is"! That's probably being mildly dramatic, but boy did it feel that way so often throughout this moving process. No matter how hard we try to minimalize, we are professionals at surrounding ourselves with endless piles of <insert appropriate cuss word>. After our last shipment was picked up, the remaining contents in our house had to fit in suitcases or otherwise be given away or tossed out. This resulted in endless trips to the recycling center and my constant badgering of friends trying to release ourselves of "stuff" we didn't intend to bring with us.

One thing that became ever so clear to me during this process was that a one year old makes everything take about 5x as long as it should. Baby c, bless his heart, is a cutie, but not so much when both hands are covered in gloves and I'm up to my ears in cleaning products. With time running out, I got to a point where I just started throwing things into bags. That meant our hotel, too, was overrun with madness. I thought Big R was going to have a heart attack being surrounded by all of the clutter. He disappeared to take care of some out processing appointments, I bought a footlocker to send a crapload of stuff to our new house, and I went to work trying to organize our madness. It somehow all fit into suitcases, but we were a sight to behold at the airport.

After our last landlord debacle, I was super anxious about our final inspection to clear housing. I don't think I ever wrote about what happened during our move last summer, but let's just say our beautiful two years in Bischberg was jaded by our nasty ex-landlord being a colossal jerk. But I digress... I was a bundle of nerves. I'm happy to report that I had no reason to fret. As the inspector walked through the house, he paid me probably one of the best compliments you could receive in this situation - he told me the house looked so good, someone could move in the next day. YES! That felt like an amazing accomplishment.

With housing cleared, most of our "junk" accounted for, and our bags packed, it was time to pick up the rental cars. Yes, you read that correctly. That would be cars, plural, because my circus was so large we needed two vehicles to get us to the airport. Our plan was to spend the afternoon in Bamberg, but things always take longer than expected, and we were not up for an hour long drive. I was disappointed, but we needed a breather.
This is how we kept the cats happy and out of trouble while we stayed at the hotel.
After our last German dinner, we got back to the hotel, got the boys into bed, packed up everything and loaded the car (less the pets, of course). We were just about to "Prost" our last German beer, when Big R realized that we never got notice that his racecar made it to Atlanta. I can't remember if I wrote about the crazy logistics of this move. So many things have to fall into place just right or the plan gets turned upside down. Consider the plan flopped. Time for "plan B" and some serious patience. Because we had pets in tow, the travel folks could only get us as far as Atlanta, but this would have otherwise worked out perfectly. One of the car delivery centers for military transport sits adjacent to the Atlanta airport. So, we scheduled to send the car early enough that we were guaranteed backwards and forwards it would be sitting waiting for us to arrive. Ha! Oh well... There are other stories attached to this debacle, but that's probably worth a blog post of its own.

So we drank ours beers and attempted to crash early knowing our wake up hour for the adventure was 2:30 a.m. Oh so fun. Needless to say, I didn't sleep at all. We got the crew in the two rental cars and took off for the Frankfurt airport. A mostly uneventful journey. We parked at the rental car station and the adventure contined. Two carts full of huge luggage, a dog crate, and two cat kennels, and we balanced our way into the terminal. Watching everyone's faces as our entourage scooted through the airport was priceless. I wish we had brought along a photographer because there just wasn't a good moment to capture the hilarity of it all. Imagine, if you will, Lando in his carrier balanced atop two duffle bags, another cart busting with enormous luggage, baby c strapped to my chest with a huge backpack on my back, and Big R sporting a large backpack both on his front and back.
I tried to take a picture of our entourage trekking though the airport but this is the best I could do
The cats were mewing, Lando was running around in circles in his crate, little r was moving his little legs as fast as he could to keep up and baby c was hooting in awe at all the lights and people. It was nuts. A long wait, a gazillion dollars later, and a confused airline agent trying to figure out why our reservations were under baby C's name, and we were on our way to find breakfast and our gate.
The process involved a lot of waiting - quite the challenge for a 4 yr old
Our move from the US to germany included a flight with a million stories. I am happy to say this flight was rather uneventful. It was chalk full of many movies, baby c doing a lot of fussing and hooting and very little sleeping, little r watching all his movies in German, and Big R and I bracing ourselves for the adventure that awaited our landing. Overall, nothing to write home about, and we like it that way. The only mild heart attack I had was when we were facing the realization that baby c's carrier was not FAA approved, and I thought I was going to hold a toddler on my lap for the entire 10 hour flight. I'm not sure if this is the standard rule or if the flight attendant felt pity on me when she saw the look in my face, but baby c only had to be strapped to my lap for take off and landing. Minor crisis averted....
All smiles before they told me I couldn't use the baby seat on the plane - minor unplanned glitch
Little r was a dream on this flight and Big R was just thinking about that free glass of wine
If you ever do an international move with a family of children and pets, prepare yourselves for a freaking looooong process once you land. It took over an hour for all our bags to appear (but we got every last one!), and until we were reunited with our furry buddies. I had packed plastic gloves, throw away towels, and anything else I could think of to clean whatever mess our little creatures made of themselves on the flight. Amazingly, not a whisper of pee or poop in a single kennel. They were all comatose and happy to see us - it was a beautiful sight.

Half an hour later, we were through customs, and Big R stood watch while baby c and I retrieved the rental car. The rental car facility is next to the terminal, but the domestic terminal, which I didn't realize is on the other side of the world from the international terminal we flew into. It took us 20 minutes to shuttle there, a long wait in a line, and 20 minutes to drive back. I told the agent I needed a very large car to get my crew home, so she upgraded me to an Explorer. When did this SUV become such a behemoth?! Man, we have been gone from the US too long. Lol.

Everyone survived the wait except when Big R consolidated the cats into the smaller carrier, Sergeant decided Lucy's carrier was a much better place to take a dump, which he did, and then he proceeded to shove her into it. Such a sweetheart, that cat. Oy! Upon this discovery, I was very happy to know that I had reserved a hotel room at a crappy motel near the airport for cheap.

Big R and I managed to stay fairly calm through most of this adventure with the exception of a couple mild moments. Packing the car was Big R's turn for his meltdown. A long day, sweltering humidity that we aren't accustomed to, and way more crap than anyone should ever own in their lives, equalled a frustrating debacle as he tried to get it all into the car. The SUV is truly a behemoth, but it still took some craftwork to fit us all in.

I had no idea what kind of a dump I put us up in for the night. It was by far the most disgusting place I have ever stayed. The staff was friendly, but I kept finding black hairs in the bathroom as I cleaned poop off the floors from my cats. Not sure what was more disturbing. Meanwhile I hear baby c having a massive meltdown as Big R promptly tossed a mound of nastiness diaper into the bathroom at me. Gross! By the time I finished torturing the cats (and let's face it, torturing myself), I surfaced from the bathroom to find all my boys asleep. Exhausting day all around. My adrenaline was through the roof, so I found a coca cola and a bag of chips, and I surfed the internet for awhile to decompress.

We couldn't be happier to escape the motel, and the car showed no signs of arriving that morning. So we hit the road early, stopped at Starbucks just outside Atlanta and enjoyed the friendly southern people, and met our new landlord at our beautiful house just before noon.
Look out, Tennessee - we're here!
Lando settled in nicely :)
Phew... I'm exhausted typing it all! We are all doing pretty incredible. I'm so proud of my boys, Big R included, and the furry ones were amazing as well. It was an adventure as it always will be, but we survived another overseas move. Look out, Tennessee! Our family has arrived and we're ready for our new adventures to begin. Guess it's time to revamp my blog :)

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