Because we're here with the military and not simply as ex-pats, life looks a little different I think. The military is helping us extensively -- we have most of the same privileges as military members: commissary and PX, help with housing, DOD schools, etc. But all of that takes time and lots of steps and paperwork which takes more time! We shipped our van in the beginning of June, the estimated arrival is August 22. IF it arrives by then, there's still the process of inspections (American and German), customs, licensing, and making sure that we have our driver's licenses and insurance in order before we get it back. I won't be driving for a while! We are planning on purchasing a second car for Chopper and something that we can fit the entire family into but that too is a process and we probably won't have a car in hand for another week or two even though we've identified the car that I think we're going to get.
The housing process is also interesting. There's military base housing, government housing off base, and housing on the economy. We can go through the housing office and look at what they offer (we're not eligible for base housing) or we can get a realtor and find something on our own. A lot of people (well maybe not a lot) get houses from people in their units or buildings that are leaving. But that can only be done with off-base units that are rented privately -- although privately means you have a German landlord/lady and a contract with them. The housing office will still help us navigate that which is really nice.
We've met several people who have housing but it won't start for 6 weeks or so. It appears that the average temporary living stay is running 6 weeks to 60 days. With William wanting to go home and have our stuff every day, I'm struggling with the temporary living. But we also got lucky. A building of furnished apartments specifically for people coming to the base was recommended to us and had an opening right when we needed it. We have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment and it is a HUGE blessing over living in a hotel room. We have a full (small) kitchen, laundry facilities, and it's very close to the base and right on the edge of the town so we can walk onto the base or we can walk down the street AND the church is literally around the corner at the end of our road. Incredibly convenient, pretty new, clean, and comfortable (thanks to IKEA!). And it's kind've an introduction to things like smaller fridges and washers/dryers and ovens, the recycling system (oh my heck! Everything gets recycled and you don't just throw it in a can like we did in Texas, you have to separate it out according to category and sometimes I'm not sure what goes where.), and how the windows work!! That sounds weird but they are the coolest things ever! There is no air conditioning in Germany (and we certainly haven't needed it -- hello 60 degrees during the day!) and the houses are made largely of stone and concrete. The climate is lush and humid and rainy and so to avoid mold you have to leave your windows open for a certain amount of time every day so that things get sufficiently dried out -- particularly bathrooms. I thought that this would lead to all sorts of bug problems and I'm sure if we were on the ground floor it would, but being up here we haven't had anything major (because there are no screens on the windows). And we've had the windows open almost 24/7 because it's nice weather. I don't know how these things work but the way you turn the handle determines how the window opens. If the handle is pointing up, you can pull the window forward and the top leans in just a few inches. If you point it sideways, you can pull the window open like a door. The doors do it too! It's crazy cool!! Then there are the Roladens (I hope I spelled it right and my German friend Melanie totally laughed at me when I pronounced it roll-a-den, it's more like row-la-din). Anyway they are metal shades on the outside that you raise or lower with the strap kind of thing and when they're completely down they block out all light. You can put them down but leave cracks to let some light in but they're basically made for the very light nights and early mornings that are here. Long days. Chopper read somewhere that it will be opposite in the winter -- really really short days. And cold. I'm not really looking forward to that honestly.
Anyway so Chopper went right to work the first day. He's been doing a lot of in-processing and hasn't actually started his job duties yet, but he has a ride and he does go to work every day. The kids and I keep enough groceries on hand to do breakfast and lunch here (it's just so much easier) and find something to do during the day. I packed some light toys, books, and card games, we've found the city park that they really enjoy and then we're planning this week to go on base and find the library and also try out the local grocery and send some letters from the post office. William has been throwing fits every time we go walk somewhere so that's kind've made things difficult. Then Chopper gets home after 5 and we find somewhere to eat for dinner! And that's what life looks like right now!
A few notes about the area that I don't think I've already mentioned:
The flowers are fantastic!! It probably isn't good to generalize but the Germans love flowers in window boxes, in pots on the steps, in the yards, as hedgerows, all over the place! It's beautiful!! Although I do anticipate having to take care of quite the yard and I'm not a yardwork/gardening person.
The church in the main square is set back and we finally walked around it. It's pretty simple compared to what I think we'll see and we weren't able to go in but the architecture is still beautiful. Most of the churches, especially the older ones, are Catholic of course. Abby has informed me that she does not like the statues of Christ that portray him on the cross rather bloody. I've realized that they don't really know that there are other religions out there. We go to church and so when we say -- look at that beautiful church! -- they think it's one of ours! So we've started to explain that churches are different (although I'm so grateful right now that Mormons are the same everywhere!).
And I think that's a pretty good assessment of what life looks like right now. I need to post where we went Saturday night but Chopper says I need to edit my photos first so they're better!