Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Does anyone out there hate packing as much as I do?  Of course, typically, my issue is trying to decide WHAT to pack, and not the packing itself.  Don't really have that issue this time around.  Now I'm facing that slight anxiety of how the heck I'm going to fit it all.  Ok, no, I'm basically freaking out.  Haha.  My mind was made up yesterday when I went to the UPS packing store to send some things to Big R in Germany.  The cost is relatively  OUTRAGEOUS, and customs makes the whole shipping deal a little more work than I have energy for.  So, if it don't fit, it ain't going.  And yes, this phase of my transition has made me lose my grammar, at least momentarily.

Little r has been a gem for me today.  He slept in until 7:30 a.m., which is something he hasn't done since Big R left for Germany over a month ago (can you believe it's been that long already?).  My awesome cleaning lady came this morning, so now my empty house has clean floors and the mildew has been wiped from the shower walls.  Such a beautiful feeling to walk around the house and not have 5 inches of dirt stuck to my feet.  It's also amazing how a clean house can bring me a sense of calm.

The last phase of the move happens tomorrow as the moving crew packs up and carries out all the things going into storage for the next three years.  We'll be spending one more night here, and then driving away from Richmond on Friday morning.  Keep those fingers crossed for me that all my stuff fits into these suitcases and that I can get it all into that little car for the trip to DC!    

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bye bye, Work

Today marks the first day of the next phase in my life.  Last week I said "good-bye" to work, said "good-bye" to Fort Lee, said "good-bye" to my crazy clients, and said "good-bye" to being an attorney for the next few years.  Here's a picture of my office as I walked out the door for the very last time...

I thought it would be harder to leave. The people I will miss dearly, there is no argument there.  I made it through my farewell speech without getting super emotional this time.  A huge accomplishment for me being that I cannot seem to say "farewell" to people I care about without balling my eyes out these days.  I blame the hormones and emotions that result from having children.  I am not going to lie, it is good to walk away from the stress of the job.  That aside, being a legal assistance attorney was a growing experience for me.  There are not too many jobs out there where you can feel that you are helping people every day.  I learned depths about the Army and its Soldiers, and saw deep into the facets of army life and how difficult it can be on American families.  These Soldiers truly do sacrifice so much to serve our country, and I am not sure many Americans realize just how great that sacrifice can be.

During my tenure at Fort Lee I saw amazing clients, and I'm happy to say I successfully helped several clients solve some problems they could not have done on their own. Many of them touched my heart with their stories, and broke my heart with others.  There are also all the endless "crazy" issues and clients.  We used to say we'd have endless years of stories for cocktail parties because most of the stories you just can't make up, and I am NOT kidding.  Real people keep life VERY interesting.  Winning the negotiations for clients could certainly be rewarding. The most rewarding feeling, though, is when someone comes into your office with a life-altering problem and even though you haven't got a clue how to help them, they leave your office thanking you like you just moved mountains and saved the world.  It's times such as these that it dawned on me how important the work that I did truly could be to someone.  

When I started this job as a new mom almost 2 years ago, I never imagined how it would shape and affect me.  I am thankful that I had the opportunity to provide legal assistance to Soldiers.  If I never do another divorce for a client again though, it'll be too soon!  This girl is ready to climb back to her roots and dive into helping the environment again and leaving the domestic relations law issues to those that love the drama that comes along with it.

Here's to a new phase in my life. There are possibilities in the works for what comes next, and I promise to tell all once these things form into more concrete plans.  Here's a picture of sweet lil r on his last commute home from daycare.  That child care facility was so amazing I've saved it for a blog post of its own!  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Shopping is getting fun! And you guessed right, it took a bout of special powers to pry this child out of the car.  He would also get very frustrated with me when the car stopped moving.  Guess we learn to hate traffic at a young age!

Expecting the unexpected

While I've been busy preparing for the final move details on this end, Big R has been facing big challenges and adventures on his side as well. As unnerving as trying to settle in a foreign place can be, I have been amazed by how Big R has been handling it all. The bedroom has become Big R's little sanctuary for the time being, especially since the only piece of furniture in the house right now is the bed. Every day I am welcomed by a "good morning" email where Big R has taken a picture like this one of the view from our bedroom:

The housing search was probably the biggest hurdle. It was a stressful process, and it was such a relief when Big R found our place and got everything squared away. A huge weight lifted off of his shoulders and the release was so obviously apparent. Even when he's describing the adventures of his day, he sounds so optimistic and brings his humor with him along the way. Last week he called me to tell me that our hot little race car (the Saab turbo that is Big R's pride and joy) did not pass inspection, he actually laughed. Almost as if he would expect nothing less than for the most simple of things to create a challenge. The car is fine, but the tires are done. Oh such a simple fix you say? Well, not so much, especially since everyone on the economy takes cash only and the supplier on post didn't have the tires we needed. Big R took it in stride though and found a solution. I'd say he's getting good at this!

We also just found out that we barely squeaked by another major policy changed that would have effected so many things that we had planned for. Turns out the housing situation at our assignment took a turn this month and now housing is miraculously abundant. The policy changed just last week requiring all soldiers to live on-post. How we managed the timing on this one, I'll never know. I got this little nugget of information from the other JAG spouse I've recently befriended. She was almost caught in a bind. Army life requires you to be flexible, as she so well pointed out, but sometimes you have to be so flexible that you can fold like a pretzel. She and her husband had already secured housing, their daughter was enrolled in school, and utilities were transferred to this new house. Too bad, so sad. The new policy was in effect and they had to now live on post. After much begging and pleading, they were told that If they could bring in a signed lease the following business day, the housing office would approve it. It took a bout of pure luck, but it all fell together. The Army really knows how to keep you on your toes. Always seems as soon as you think you have everything figured out, they come at you from behind and blindside you with something unexpected. Lesson learned is follow the rules and do not get too far ahead of the curve because the Army is always changing things and you never know what to expect even if you've done the same process 10 times over.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dog walk lead me here...

Got an email with this picture attached and the caption, "Dog walk led me here..."

Oh the amazing life we shall lead :)

I'm only human...

My last day at work is less than a week away.  That is unreal on
multiple levels.  Per usual, I have far too much to do in such a short
amount of time, so I'm resembling nothing shy of a chicken with her
head cut off. My soul has been anxious this past week, although I am
having trouble finding the source.  I suppose there comes a time when
we have to look inward and realize that we are only human, and whether
we like it or not change is something that affects us all.  Growing up
in the military we moved every 3-4 years, and sometimes we would move
3-4 times in one year.  That lifestyle became a virus in me that kept
me from being able to settle anywhere for more than a couple of years.
I'm sure other military "brats" and spouses know exactly what I'm
referring to.  It's that itch you get after you have been somewhere
for a couple of years that it's time for something new.  I used to
always say that I longed to be settled, but then once I finally was
settling in, I was anxious for change.

You would think with that frame of mind and outlook on life that
moving would really be "no big deal."  I mean, come on, we get a
moving company to come not only pick up all our stuff, but also to
pack it all.  Everything is paid for and all you have to do is show
up.  HA!  Wow, I really wish it worked that way.  I am thankful I did
not have to rent a U-haul, bribe friends with beer and pizza, and
carry heavy furniture and finagle awkwardly sized items down a narrow
and steep staircase.  That said, I challenge anyone that says that
military moves are a piece of cake to try one.  Then again, I'm sure
not everyone is as anal as I am and doesn't mind having their trash
included in their household goods and their bathroom items mixed with
their CDs and sports gear.  No matter how you cut it, moving is just a
bear for everyone whether you're moving down the street, or shipping off
thousands of miles across the Pacific ocean.

This move has been particularly tasking for me, and the challenges
have taken me by surprise.  I have always been that strong-willed
independent person that takes on these challenges with gusto and
refuses to recognize when the stress has taken over.  Maybe it's my
age, maybe it's the fact that I'm now a mother, or maybe it has
something to do with the fact that I'm a professional working mom that
is leaving everything behind to discover an entire new world with her
family.  I have been emailing with another JAG spouse in Germany and
she also has an amazing blog where she's been sharing the stresses of
her current Army move. We recently started talking about how sometimes
it is best to give in to the need to let it go.  Not everything has to
be perfect, and for crying out loud, we're human darnit!  And that
means it's ok for us to acknowledge that moving your family and life
to a new place, let alone a foreign country, is a challenge and it's
stressful, and THAT IS OK!

So, this blog post is all about thanking all of you - all of my
friends and family - for being there while I wade through these
challenges.  For being there when I know I must seem like a monster
because I can't see straight and I haven't slept for weeks. For
babysitting so I can run to the gym or buy needed items at the store.
But also for understanding that just because I need to cry, doesn't
mean I'm a weak person and that sometimes it's ok to release when
you've reached your limit.  It's true that we are not picking up from
a horrible tragedy like the mass destruction left from a tornado or an
earthquake, but even the good changes in life can be challenging.

Thank you all so very much. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Settling can be a little unsettling

Big R is settling into our new home - well, about as much as he is able sans our household goods, a kitchen, light fixtures, and the internet.  That said, he is otherwise making himself at home.  We are now realizing how much we have learned to get accustomed to... no, depend on, technology.  We have been incredibly spoiled in our marriage by how much we've been able to communicate with each other especially with the amount of time we've had to spend apart.  The internet is an amazing tool, and mobile phones, well, saying that I had no idea when I was in college that every American above the age of 10 would be carrying a cell phone is an understatement.  So, yeah, we've been spoiled.  The whole cell phone gig is a little difficult to master across international lines, at least using the providers in the United States.  Our fingers are crossed that the internet finds its way to our new place, and does it fast!  It's amazing how much you can miss someone when you are used to be in constant contact with them.

I've found myself in an uncomfortable state of high anxiety today.  I'm not terribly certain of the source, but I think it might be my recent realization that my time here is short and my list is long.  After Big R left with the pup and the crazy tiger cat to Germany, I had an immense release of stress.  All of my focus shifted to helping Big R as much as I could, and I took a little hiatus from the madness I had been putting myself through on this end.  Suppose you could say, my mini-vaca is over and it's time for me to gear up.  Gear up for what exactly, is the question I keep asking myself.

My mind is going in so many directions that my thoughts cannot even form long enough to create my much-needed lists.  To calm my mind I decided that we needed to spend the afternoon at the pool.  My little bear is the perfect cure for an unstable mind especially when he has so much fun that the laughter is nonstop.

We went straight from the pool to spend a lovely evening with some close friends.  Now home and little r being tucked soundly into bed, I am trying to force myself to relax and to stop the incessant desire to pull all the crap from where it's carefully hidden and start organizing for the yard sale in 2 weeks.  Instead, I poured myself a glass of wine, and turned on a movie.  Time to relax! I hope you all are having a relaxing weekend as well.  And Big R, if you are out there, know that we miss you something fierce!        

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Home sweet home...

The internet has been down here and Big R has been busy in Germany, so there is so much to tell!

The house above is our new home!  Our apartment is the main level of the building, that is, the first level you see above with a balcony.  It's located in a small town just 5km from the center of town and only about 7-8km from the Army post and Big R's office. Our new little town is the home to about 6,000 people, so it's a perfect size, yet it's a stone's throw away from everything that we could need.  The Haupstrasse, or main street, is a mere 500-800m away, or a quick 10 minute walk from our new place.

This beautiful Haupstrasse includes several bakeries, a coffee shop, and a few butcher shops.  Isn't it amazing how incredibly clean the streets are?!  Oh, and we cannot forget that we have our very own town brewery.

It's a beauty, no?  Apparently it's the last of five breweries that used to call this little town home.  Big R has already had a beer or two in this sweet little joint, and I have no doubt they are the first of many.  There is also an indoor pool or aquatic center in our town.  Such a lovely thought that we'll be able to keep up our swimming while we're stationed in Germany. Also hoping to get little r in some lessons.  All of this just a mere 10-15 minute walk from our apartment!  The Germans are a bicycle-friendly bunch, so they put good money into making great and extensive bike trails.  Accordingly to Big R, there is an amazing bike trail that follows the river into town toward the Army post.  He can hop on his fancy new cruiser and be at the office in 25 minutes. (Yep, finally got a picture of these fine wheels.)  Have no fear, in inclimate weather we can use the bus transit system, which stands in no comparison to any system we have here in the U.S.

So, a little more about the apartment... It's 130m2, or about 1,400 sq ft for us Americans.  Three bedrooms, one full bath and a guest bath, a huge living room, and a dining room that finally warrants us investing in a table and chairs suitable only for grown-ups (which I suppose we finally need to admit that we are).  We will have access our wrap-around porch from a couple different rooms including a huge window and access from the master bedroom.

The house sits at the edge of town, or as the German translation goes: the end of the world!  A better translation is that we have a backyard that extends for an eternity and creates a haven for our pup and our crazy tiger cat. Can't say we'll be getting many complaints out of either of them.

We are still unsure how we managed this, and I am daily wishing Big R were here to pinch me because it all seems too good to be true.  Housing was a bear and Big R did have to seek out a real estate agent, or immobilienmakler, to help make this a reality.  The housing office was not pet-friendly and we're sorry, but our pets are like our kids, so they go where we go!  Although the money came from our pockets, this amazing immobilienmakler was worth every penny.

Big R has the keys in hand and is officially moving in tomorrow.  All this made easier because he is officially driving in Germany now.  He barely squeaked by and passed the driver's test, so they gave him a license (Oh Lord help us all!), and he was reunited with his race car today.  Our Saab apparently immensely enjoys going 120 mph on the autobahn!

Home sweet home awaits.  Big R is borrowing some much-needed furniture items until our household goods arrive.  And in true German form, the kitchen still needs to be installed.  He was able to negotiate a kitchen into the rent (including a dishwasher - yeehaaa) with the only downside being he has to wait for the kitchen his landlord ordered to arrive and get it installed. Guess we'll be heavily using a microwave for 6 weeks!  And no sink, hmmm...  This is when life gets creative.  Salads and sandwiches anyone?!

Each time I talked to Big R he seems more excited about this assignment. I just can't wait until little r and I get to join him.  Thanks for joining us on this adventure.  I do believe we are in for a wild and very enjoyable ride :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

School bus

We had a little shopping adventure yesterday with my sister to look for shoes to match her wedding dress. Yes, my little sister is getting married (yeeeeaaaaah), and I'm hoping to get as much wedding prep time in with her before we move to Germany.  Shopping was not only successful, but tons of fun.  Even little r managed to enjoy himself.  He was so good, in fact, that we treated him to a fun toy store before we headed home.  Little r was beside himself with all the toys.  

At some point my little r decided that school buses were pretty much the coolest things ever.  He gets ridiculously excited when he sees one and calls out in his endearing little voice "booo busss-h" and smiles from ear to ear.  This amazing toy store had the coolest cars, trucks, tanks, tractors, and SCHOOL BUSES!

We had to get it, of course, and little r has hardly put it down since.  In fact, when he crawled into bed he was holding it tight and I pulled the absolute worst mom maneuver EVER and pried it from his hands.  How could I do something so horrible?!  Complete and utter meltdown.  Did what any rationally-minded mother would do and handed it right back.  Wish I could have captured the look on his face when I did.  And no, it was not joy, it was pure disdain - a message to tell me never try that again!  So, little r slept snuggled up to his blanket and his school bus.  He did as any toddler would and played with the school bus in his crib for about half an hour before taking off for dreamland.  There's a little button on the top and when you press it down, it plays "Twinkle, twinkle, little star..."  We heard that over, and over, and over... Kid was happy though, so I just let him be.  

Woke up this morning to a happy, giggling kid and "Twinkle, twinkle little star..."  Guess you could say we have a new favorite toy :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A little Sunday morning cleaning

One thing I'll need to get accustomed to moving to Germany is that Sunday is a day of rest.  I have a tendency to use the early morning hours on a Sunday to get all my cleaning done. My little r is a pro at getting us up early, and Saturdays require quite a bit more easing into the day.  This fine Sunday morning was no exception, but I had some help from a sweet little bear so it put pep in my step and motivated me to really clean.    

Today we did some vacuuming.  I miss my puppy dearly, but one thing that I haven't missed is copious amounts of dog hair.  Instead, I have a new challenge, and that is having a toddler with no dog to clean up after him.  So, we tackled the floor this morning.  Little r did a fantastic job with the vacuum:

Then we took on the kitchen with a vengeance. Even pulled out the refrigerator and stove.  "Eew, eew, eew..." as little bear would say.  I found a nearly empty bottle of "Simple Green" so I cleaned it out well, and filled it with a bit of water so little r could 'help' mommy clean.  Never seen a kid so happy to help before. Just look at this diligence:

Guess it's a little too obvious that this kid's mommy is a neat freak and spends a too much time cleaning.  Promise me you won't hold it against him.  I'm just hoping his desire to clean is not a phase.  And no, I swear this isn't some sort of child labor. This kid loves to help me clean!

After we finished up our cleaning activities and little r had managed to completely soak every inch of the floor and drench the cat with his spray bottle, we headed out for a lovely morning walk.  What a beautiful Sunday!