First Few Days in Germany

After a 9.5 hour flight, we finally arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. We left Denver at 5:40pm on a Wednesday and arrived at 11:40am on a Thursday. The Frankfurt Airport is HUGE! It is the 3rd largest Airport in Europe and 11th overall just behind Hong Kong and Dallas. There was walking, more walking, passport check, escalator, escalator and more walking before finally finding baggage claim. Luckily all signs are in German and English but let me tell you that is a test of your mental fortitude. Get off plane after 9.5 hrs with minimal sleep and maneuver your way around a massive airport. Just to make things interesting lets add a 2 year old who thinks he is in charge, one misplaced gate checked stroller and GO!

We were very blessed in that Gavin’s new co-workers met us at the Airport after baggage claim. They helped us maneuver our way to the rental cars (more walking and elevators) and helped us find the parking garage where the vehicle would be (again more walking and surprisingly not close to the rental car area). They also helped us manage all of our luggage. They even helped us find the hotel, get us lunch and help us settle in. We are forever grateful and cannot express how thankful we are for this kind gesture. It made a HUGE difference on our first day.

Time Change

The next struggle for us has been the time change. They say it takes 1 day for every hour difference in time. There is an 8 hour time difference between Colorado and Germany so it is supposed to take us 8 days to adjust. 8 days. Let that sink in for a minute while I cuddle my screaming toddler. 8 days!

IMG_0597(Toddler tantrum time)

We have been through 2 nights here so far and they look like this: fall asleep at 5:30-6 pm as unable to keep eyes open any longer, wake up wide awake at midnight, stay awake until 2-3 am and then fall back asleep until 10am-noonish. I should add wake up starving at midnight because you fell asleep before dinner and have no food options open. Poor hubby has dealt with hangry pregnant wife on very little sleep. We have learned our lesson. Today we ventured to the grocery store for midnight dinner options and are attempting a more strict sleep schedule to attempt to slowly change our internal clocks. Fingers crossed!

IMG_0596(American bread vs European Toaster)

Finding a Home

As mentioned above we got in Thursday afternoon and then the very next day we were scheduled to meet with our “relocation assistant” to help find us a house. There’s nothing better to cure jet lag hangover then making a huge decision about where to live. It really couldn’t be avoided though as we have to find a place before all of our stuff gets here. We met with a lovely woman named Stephanie who was able to show us around our new town and show us several properties. The housing market in Wiesbaden is rough (right now). Rents are high and options are limited. Fortunately we were able to find 2 homes that we really liked. The process of renting a home here is rather interesting. After you decide you would like to rent a home, you must fill out a tenant form. Basically a form that says who you are, what do you do for a living, how much money do you make and where do you bank. You then submit this form to the landlord and they get to just hold on to the form until they decide if they want you as renters or not. They can say yes right away or they can wait and see who else might come along. I feel like we are trying to find a date on Match.com . We submitted our paperwork on Friday and now we wait. I hope they like us!

Final Thoughts

The first few days have been chaos but overall I think things are going well. We have been able to order food (most people speak English), the kiddo has only had a couple meltdowns (he is 2! Its going to happen), we attempted to drive the car somewhere (but didn’t succeed and came home and walked it. Haha!), we have managed to get on the right train (and back!) and we’ve been to the grocery store.

IMG_0594(O loves the train!)

All in all, not too bad. I look forward to the days when everything comes easy, but that’s not what we signed up for now is it. Our first few steps into European waters have been shaky but I think we are finding our way. Stay tuned for more Littleboy Shenanigans!

IMG_0599(Watching ducks in Wiesbaden)

Moving Day

Moving day has finally arrived. Everything happened so quickly from the job offer, to quitting my job, to packing up that moving day came upon us fast. This is the first day that I have truly felt like we are moving to Germany. Since we accepted the position, I have been so consumed with finishing things off at work, getting paperwork filled out, getting rid of our belongings and compiling to-do lists and packing lists that I have not taken the time to actually sit down and think. We are moving to Germany. This is happening!

 

With this move, we had movers hired to box everything up and move it into the moving truck. This is a first for me. Moving usually entails us sweating like crazy, getting cranky and having a meltdown by the end of the day with only half the house packed. This time it was AMAZING. Three guys showed up on Tuesday morning and with lightening speed they had everything wrapped up and boxed. Everything divided and labeled by room (we’ll see how that actually works out on the other side). The only thing we had to do before hand was pack up what was going on the flight with us and set aside what was going on the air shipment. They did the rest. Though I must admit we were scrambling around Tuesday morning as we realized last minute things that needed to go in different shipments.

IMG_0579

The movers were here for 4 hours on Tuesday and 4 hours on Wednesday. Boom done! They brought the gigantic freight container for shipping on a truck. We filled up less than 1/3 of the container! I guess our downsizing plan worked out! Hopefully we’ll see it all on the other side. We’ll keep you posted!

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Downsizing (Minimally Minimalist)

As we prepared for our move overseas, one of the major things that had to be addressed was our STUFF and let me tell you there was a lot of STUFF.   We live in a fairly large house in the suburbs with a 2 car garage, not exactly European living. Here is what we did to start getting rid of our stuff.

First, we started off by doing some research (because we are nerds like that). Of course there is the random internet advice (see Google). My husband follows a nice podcast called The Minimalist (www.theminimalists.com). This offered some great advice on how to get into the right mindset as your prepare to get rid of things and also offered advice on how to get that done. One example we used is using a service to scan your old photos to get them digitalized. Then you can finally get rid of the ton of old photo boxes you have hanging around.

I did my part too! I read the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. Super popular book right now and can be found here: https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering-Organizing-ebook/dp/B00KK0PICK Now everything offered in this book is maybe not reasonable for the traditional American lifestyle but it did offer some great ideas that we put into practice.

  1. One of the first ideas I absolutely loved was waiting until the end to go through sentimental things like old photos and mementos. Start with easier stuff like clothes and books. The thought is that the sentimental stuff will pull you in and you will start reminiscing and stop decluttering.
  2. Organize by category not room. So get all of your coats/outerwear and get them in one room so you can see every single coat you have. If you did the bedroom and then the coat closet, you might convince yourself you need a couple extra coats because you forgot about the ones you already went through and kept in another room.
  3. Which brings me to the one that I think is the most important. Get everything in one room and pile it up. This is a big step! I put all of my shirts in one pile and my immediate thought was “Why in the world do I have this many shirts?!?!” This really makes you realize how much stuff you really truly have and is a gut check on how this stuff is burdening you.
  4. Only declutter (aka throw out) your own stuff. I can’t just go through my husbands closet and throw out what I think needs to go. That just causes sore feelings. However, I can mildly coax him in the right direction J

The book also promotes only keeping things that “Spark Joy” (which also became the title of Kondo’s 2nd book). She recommends holding each item in your hands and determining if it truly brings you joy. The idea is to take the time to really appreciate each item you have and realize that it is serving some purpose in your life and if it isn’t then it is time to get rid of it. I may have not fully deployed this tactic during my downsizing. The book is a quick read and I think everyone who reads it can take out a tip or 2 that works for their lifestyle so why not give the book a try.

Ok so what are the actual steps we took after all this “research”:

  1. First we got rid of everything we haven’t used in the last 6 months (think clothes, kitchen appliances, beer glasses from college). Thank you internet advice.
  2. Next, we got rid of everything that plugged in. Everything electrical had to go! Converters really don’t do the job so most minor appliances had to go. You should check on your TVs, computers, etc. as most of these items today can have a new power cord and ta-da they work in Europe. Always double check!
  3. Then we went back to the clothes and other stuff and did the plan mentioned above inspired by Kondo’s methods. Getting everything out and in the open makes you realize that you don’t need 42 t-shirts in your life. The sentimental stuff takes time and paperwork is such a pain!
  4. Speaking of paperwork. I felt like we were drowning in random lose papers! This is even with a filing system. We waited until the last minute for this job as it was the most dreaded task on the list. Give yourself lots of time for this step. We did an extensive amount of scanning and making items digital in order to reduce clutter. We used accordion binders to keep our most important documents in order and ready to travel with us.
  5. Go back to the clothes, books, toys, etc. one more time. This is called the Last Ditch Pitch. If in the final hours of packing, you don’t feel like the effort of packing something outweighs the importance of the item (meaning I don’t even want to bother packing this) then just through it away (or donate it). If it isn’t worth the trouble of packing it up then it wasn’t that meaningful/useful to you. Ditch it!
  6. Take a deep breath! Doesn’t that feel better! The weight of all your stuff has been lifted from your shoulders. You made it!

Quick thought, don’t forget to keep your receipts from Goodwill. You can claim up to $5000 on your taxes for your charitable donation. Just make sure to keep a list of the items you donated and the Goodwill website has a list of how much you can claim each item is worth for your taxes. A little legwork but sometimes this is easier than actually putting together a garage sale and dealing with all that hassle.

First blog post

First blog post ever! Mark another item off the list. For those of you that know me, I am notorious for making extensive lists of everything. Needless to say, our sudden move to Germany has put me into list overdrive. Instead of just a list on a sheet of paper, I just went ahead and bought a notebook so that all my lists could be in one place!

The first big question is probably “how did you guys end up in Wiesbaden, Germany?”. The answer is luck and good timing. A position opened up at my husband’s work and we were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity. We accepted the position at the start of May and are scheduled to move end of July/early August.

To prepare for the move, we have sold our house, sold one vehicle already and given away a significant amount of our belongings. We basically gave away everything that plugs into the wall due to conversion issues. We are currently in a 3000ft+ house and are anticipating significantly less room on the other side of the pond. The interesting thing about downsizing is the realization that you really don’t need all the stuff you have. Once you get rid of the clutter, you feel almost relieved. But we’ll talk more about that in a later post.

Oh one more thing, we couldn’t just move to Germany. We had to add some sparkle. In the middle of all this chaos, we also found out that we are pregnant with baby#2. Our little bean will be born in Germany. Here we go…