Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sneak Peak at Our Texas Abode

August 1st was the day we could move into the house so we borrowed air mattresses, sheets, pillows, towels, a pack-n-play, and we moved on in to rough it for a little while without a refrigerator or a washer and dryer.

What was our initial reaction to the house?  Well, the girls loved it; in fact, all the kids did.  Everyone was happy with their room assignments.  I am not as cool as the dad on Cheaper by the Dozen, just sending off all the kids to fight for their rooms.  As a child I thought that was awesome, but remember being horrified by the thought, rewatching it as a mother.  I mean that poor Mark, nicknamed Fedex, just totally got stuck in a room by himself and left out...yet again.

I was pleased by the size of the rooms and was disappointed by the quality of the paint job and the general care of the home.  Paint had been slapped on and not even going all the way to the trim.  There are some things that have been Jerry-rigged, like the dishwasher and the backdoor.

I love the size of my new pantry  It is bigger than my kitchen in Germany!

The open kitchen and living area design is great, but the dining room is far from the kitchen which is not awesome when serving up dinner.

Our master closet is also huge and such a welcome change from the small bureaus (AKA Shranks).

In fact, all the rooms have walk-in closets and I plan to put their dressers in their closets to make more room in the bedrooms since we are all doubling up in the four upstairs bedrooms.  The girls in one, Isaac and Bobby are together, and Drew and Judah are roomies.  We decided against having a guest bedroom and having four boys in one room, but we are leaving the option to switch that by having a bottom bunk in Drew and Judah's room in case we want to move Isaac's top bunk to their room.  For the moment, Bob is still very happy in his crib so we are leaving him in there for now. 

Brian was less than thrilled with the house because he cares a lot about the care and perfection of fixing the house or when making "upgrades."  It is frustrating to him because he can't really fix anything up the way he wants and it doesn't seem like our landlord is going to be doing many of the repairs we asked for.  She's new to the business of renting and doesn't have a property manager which is a huge issue as it turns out.  

More pictures to come in the future when we have our furniture and things on the walls.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mexican Food and Fun in Texas

One of the first places on our list to eat at, besides Chick-fil-A, was Lupe Tortillas.  They have the best, melt in your mouth beef fajitas I have ever tasted.  I was good to be back.  I think I had some kind of taco/fajita every day for several weeks.  Any time we had left overs, I was eating breakfast tacos too with fresh tortillas from HEB.  

My cousin and his family ended up meeting us there to make us a group of 20 which is hard to get a table for, but we did eventually get to sit down and eat.

Another thing that we got to do was drive down (in two cars) an hour and a half to Shiner to meet Brian's dad's side of the family for lunch and a tour of the brewery.  His sister had been in town from Indiana and we wanted to see them.  Shiner was in between us and it was a place they were interested in going.  Isaac and his cousin, Carter, are just a couple of months apart and they had such a great time together.  They played a giant Jenga game after the tour.

It's good to be back with family.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Our Baby Fix

We made an overnight stop in Baltimore on our journey to Texas.  We were able to see two of our very best friends in Maryland, thanks to them traveling all the way to our hotel near BWI and hanging out with us in the lobby and outside at the picnic tables.  We didn't have a vehicle and it would've been a hassle to install car seats and try to squeeze into their two vans just to go to Chick-fil-A for a bit.  So we brought Chick-fil-A to us.  It was a brief visit, but it was so great to see them again!

Then we arrived in Texas late because our plane was delayed.  We were picked up in three cars, by my mom, sister, and brother.  We were all so relieved to be done with the traveling part.  That much luggage just makes it hard.  Just a few days after I had my two feet on Texas soil, a good friend of mine from college came over to see us with her new baby boy.  He was so itty bitty and smelled so good.  We all enjoyed getting in some good cuddles and love!

We were all in need of a good baby to hold!

My mom and dad were staying with my brother and we stayed with my sister, except for Brian stayed in a hotel near his work for the first week because we needed a place for the cat.  My mom came over some mornings to watch the boys while I took the girls to complete registration at their school and get their uniforms.  We didn't rent a van, just a regular car to save money since my parents were going to be around and I had cars to borrow for a while.  Brian bought a new commuter car within a week of being in the country.  A very kind Knight (from Knights of Columbus) whom we did not know offered to lend us his truck for as long as we needed it.  So we were able to get by with just Brian's new car and the truck until our van arrived, saving us a bunch of money.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Big Day

A few more days passed with last minute activities, more good-byes to good friends, and one last trip to the Hutte in our old village.   Some people arrived on their horses and Genevieve got to ride one for a short walk around the Hutte.  She was very excited about that!

The morning of the big day, meaning the day we were to fly out of Germany to move back to the states, Brian took Drew, Isaac, and Genevieve to a bakery one last time.

The day was an eventful and wee bit stressful one, but nothing too major happened.  Little things like not having the cash for the cat on hand and me having to run to an ATM while Brian helped check in most of our 26 bags kept us moving and busy.  Right before going through security, we found a family bathroom and Brian and I tried to give the cat her anxiety medicine for the flight.  It was a pill, however, and getting a cat to swallow a pill is way more difficult than getting a dog to do it.  I've never done this before, and both Brian and I got bit trying to get it down her throat.  She's never actually drawn blood on anyone before so this was out of character.  She was highly stressed out before we even started, so it really wasn't her fault.  I remembered a syringe that was in her carrier, and Brian ended up breaking open the pill, dissolving it in water, and squirting it into her mouth while I held her.  It was an experience, but all was well after that with her.  It was a really long trip for her to be stuck in the carrier with no food, water, or litter box so she was rightly stressed for several days after.

As we were going through security, they pulled my purse out and I thought, "Oh no, what did I forget to take out of there?"  WHen they told me I had a knife in there, I was at first shocked, but I quickly remembered a few days before when Genevieve slipped her pocket knife into my purse before running off to play at the playground.  It happened to be her second pocket knife after losing the first on and just buying a new one a couple of months before at a German shop.  We took a picture of it before it was confiscated, and I sent it to my friends in Germany asking if one of them could stop by that shop and buy another one.  My heart was truly hurting for her.  She had no idea that they'd confiscate it.  I guess she hadn't been paying attention when the same thing happened to her dad previously.

Brian is taking the picture and was sitting next to Hannah.

Bobby wanted to sit with his sisters, so I sat across the aisle from them in case he changed his mind later which he did.  He's getting braver about sitting away from me lately, but it never lasts the whole length of any event.  He always changes his mind in the middle.  I switched with Genevieve when he did.

These two were on the other side of dad, across the aisle.

He did take a nap though before Genevieve and I switched places.

It was a looong day due to the time change we added six hours to our day, and it was after 9pm when we got to the hotel rooms in Baltimore, and after 10pm when we were all tucked in.  We'd had no dinner really, but the airplane gave us lots of food throughout the flight.  Most of us were okay and the little, pickier guys ate up my snacks for their dinner so we could just get to bed.

Our luggage

The whole process of getting our 26 bags, 2 booster seats, 1 car seat, and 1 freaked out cat in a carrier to and from the airport in a shuttle bus not much bigger than our van was exhausting.  BUT WE DID IT, and we are so thankful it is OVER!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Am I Three Today?

My littlest guy woke up asking, "Am I three today?"  He reminded us all day that he was three.  I was able to use up some of our last ingredients to bake a small 8 piece brownie cake in the apartment.  I baked it in the morning and we went outside to the playground next to our apartment to eat the "cake" and sing to our big boy.  I found three candles, but couldn't find where our lighters were packed, so we just pretended they were lit.

After they played on the playground for a while, we walked over to the chapel for our last daily Mass in Germany and got Bobby a birthday blessing from our priest as we said good bye to him.  

Bobby was all too happy with the meager celebrations, and the even more meager gifts.  We had his birthday gift shipped to my sister's house in Texas where we would be staying just a few days after his birthday.  The only gift we had for him on his birthday was a Chase Paw Patrol lollipop keeper.  Why, oh why, didn't anyone tell me not to spend money or time on a big celebration for children because they appreciate the small things so much more when there isn't the big to-do?  

We didn't even do a family dinner out as is typically our tradition because I had a good friend in need of help for an emergency situation that night.  We brought pizza to our hotel/apartment for a family dinner in and then I had to leave and Daddy and the girls held down the fort for the rest of the evening.

We love you, Bobby!  You are a joy and bring so much to our family.  As you frequently say to me, Bob, "I'm eating you up because I love you so much!"

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Buddies When There's No One Else???

Hannah and Genevieve had been helping a little extra with babysitting as I cleaned the house for the final inspection and we had our last pick ups.  So, I decided that they were at their limit with being patient with the boys and I would take any boys not napping that I could for some of our boring appointments, vehicle registration, etc.  One afternoon, I told Drew and Judah they were going with us to an appointment and they were not super pumped about it.

Drew begged us to leave him with all sorts of promises to be good.  He was refused.

Judah had a funny and good point, "Why are you taking the two people that don't get along, Mom?"  I told him that I just was and that they could get along.

After the initial resistance passed they actually had a good time together.  They played Tic-tac-toe with each other and Brian and myself.  Then they discovered some abandoned sand toys in the pebbles outside the door of the building.  I propped the door open and watched them play very happily for the rest of the appointment.  In fact, they got along better the rest of the day too, even once we returned to our apartment.  Perhaps they just needed to be forced together and not have so many choices for playmates.  Later on we all went swimming and the two of them played a good long game of Monkey in the Middle with me before Drew tried to drown Judah. 

I'm only kind of kidding.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Biospharenhaus: Our Last Field Trip with Our Germany Homeschool Group

This was a bittersweet day for us.  We have had so many wonderful field trips with our homeschool group and this was a good one, but our last one as well.  We didn't have a car that day, so two of our good friends came with their vans to pick our family up that morning.  It was an hour drive away and both vans put on a movie for the kids.  We never do movies in the car because of Drew's car sickness, but he has been doing so much better and I thought it would be okay.  It wasn't.  Suddenly, Judah says, "Drew is throwing up, Mom."  I was so not prepared for that.  In our van, we have all the supplies to deal with that since it used to be a nearly everyday occurrence, but I had nothing.  No clothes, no cleaning supplies, nada.  Luckily, he hadn't had any too nasty for breakfast and it was mostly water because he had to wear the clothes all day.  Yuck.

This field trip featured a tree top walk, followed by a picnic and hike, and ended with another falcon show.  One of the moms asked if it was stroller friendly, and these pictures should answer that question loud and clear.

I had to put Bobby in the Ergo for this part because I had to help Judah get from disk to disk.  He kept wanting to take a step to the next one and then let go with his hands completely to reach for the next chain with both hands.  There was a net underneath, but who really wants to test that out?

At the end of the tree top path, there was a huge slide and a baby slide to go down before heading back.

During the hike we came to the barefoot water exploration area.  The kids all loved taking their shoes off and wading in the little stream.  They could've played like that for hours if the little ones hadn't gotten so tired.

I was impressed that Bobby asked to take off his shoes and wade in the water.
The falcon show was small compared to both Freisen and Potzberg with only three birds brought out individually, but it turned out to be pretty awesome when he was choosing kids from the crowd to come down and assist him.  The third bird was brought out in a wooden box and one child from the crowd was told to hold onto the string attached to the door of the wooden box.  Another girl was told to put on the falcon glove and stand in a certain place and hold a dead headless baby chick for the bird to come eat.  The German girl got nervous at the last minute and went to sit down.  The guy called Drew out of the crowd to take her place.  He seemed nervous as well, but he did what the man said.  He told me later that the man was joking with him about the chick being for him to eat instead of the bird.  (All of this was in German, by the way.  I don't think he spoke English.)  Anyway, I have a video of some of it at the bottom of this post.  From the sounds inside the box, everyone though it was a huge scary bird.  What a surprise we all got when a very small falcon flew out, straight to Drew, grabbed the chick and flew to the perch to eat it.  Drew had a much better end to the day than his beginning.

That's Drew in the red shirt.