I've become a real slacker here! So sorry. In the dead of winter, when the sun is hiding, I lose energy and inspiration. Over the past couple of years, I've discovered that I need sun. I'm a different person when the sun is shining. I feel vibrant with life. When the sun disappears for more than a couple of days, I become grumpy and slovenly. The sun is out today and I am motivated to update you all a bit.
The move overseas is coming right up. We pack out our household goods next month! We rented our house, and I've slowly started to purge broken or beaten up toys and discard stained clothing of the girls. Soon, we'll sell infant clothes and baby items that got little use (We'll have family members and friends with infants visiting - so we aren't selling all our baby stuff). Thankfully, we already have passports and several things that are helpful when living overseas as an American such as:
My Kindle - which will come in really handy when the post library doesn't have the book I want and the post store isn't selling it. In Portugal, I had a hard time getting my hands on books (without having to order online and wait for them to come in - I'm so impatient!) and while I know it won't be quite as hard in Germany, it's still nice to be able to have something at my fingertips that doesn't take up much space. Last year, when we traveled to Ireland, I was reading a book series and the books were huge. Matt nearly had a heart attack when I packed them. Enter Kindle. Space problem solved.
Then, we have our Skype phone. It hooks up to our modem and is used like a regular landline phone otherwise. Once a year, we re-up the US phone number we bought. Incoming calls are free and outgoing calls are 3cents/min. I think there may be even better plans now and I'll look into that.
Next, we have our SlingPlayer. Handy system to have for watching live or recorded TV from the US on your computer. I hate waiting for AFN to run the shows that have already been on in the States for a month or two. And, I can't watch them online (NBC.com, for example) with a German IP address.
We've started to think more about enrolling the girls in German schools and German sports and dance. I run into so many people who've been stationed overseas and they just don't get that. It's not something they thought of doing. Someone recently said to me, "Why would you do that to your children?"
Do what? Give them the gift of language and the gift of experiencing a completely different culture? Why not? I don't mean to offend anyone, but, why move to Europe and live in "America?" By that I mean, doing everything on post. Shopping, school, sports, etc. It's boring and you aren't getting much out of your European experience, in my opinion, if you only go out as a tourist. Sure, you get to see places, but, can you really say you truly lived there if you don't shop at local markets, get to know your farmers, growers and shop owners? Learn to make a few local dishes and eat locally made and produced food (yogurt, bread, wine, beer, etc). When I visited a Navy base in Spain last year, I had to run to the commissary for Tylenol. I was appalled to see people shopping for Egglands Best eggs and Yoplait yogurt. What? Germany and Belgium make yogurt 1000x's better than Yoplait. And, why contribute to a carbon footprint that big? I guess some people don't think about it.
Yesterday, I was elated to learn that a military family on our street lived in Germany for six years. They rarely shopped at the commissary. They bought their chickens from a local market. They drove into France once a week and picked up bread, eggs, wine and cheese. They had friends who enrolled their young teenagers in German soccer and they got really really good. Better than any of their American friends. They got FICA cards and just had a blast.
Some people worry that if we put our kids in classes in which they can't speak the language, they'll suffer emotionally and academically. Well, our children are not teenagers with college looming in front of them. Young children pick up languages very very easily and haven't yet started to get too sucked into peer pressure or group forming. A fairly bright child, with no underlying learning disabilities, will catch up just fine in a foreign school and, later, when immersed back in an American school. Some people worry too much. And, if something I'm doing isn't working out, I would never force it on my child.
So, as you can see, I'm excited. I'm very very sad to leave the new found friends I've become very very close to. Our time in Germany, because of unit movement to the US, may be less than three years - but, I'm ready to embrace every moment (obstacles and all) of each day, week, month and year there!