Zachary has requested that I let everyone know that he passed his driving test. We are so thankful to have a car and the freedom that comes with that. He was a little bit sad to be driving a Honda on the Autobahn, however. His car does fine at around 80mph, but he said he was passed by countless Audi, BMW, and Mercedes going much, much faster. I let him know that he is welcome to use the BMW he is going to buy me whenever he wants to drive fast. He's lucky to be married to someone so generous.
Today was a big day for us and I am exhausted...it's not even 5pm yet...too early for this level of tired. I'm still not completely adjusted to the new schedule, but getting there. This morning we headed out early to go look at some housing options. This is my first rodeo when it comes to searching for houses with Z and with the military, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. For those of you who are unfamilar with military housing, you (usually) have two options: 1) live on base with all housing expenses covered; or 2)live off base and receive a housing allowance to use towards rent/utilities, etc. Z and I had decided from the beginning that if we were going to be living in another country, we wanted to LIVE in another country...not be confined to the comfortable American bubble of the base. The base Z is stationed at, for instance, has a craft store, a movie theater, Subway, O'Charleys, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, the PX (essentially Wal-mart) and the commissary (essentially Kroger)...everything is familiar and recognizable and in English. Which is awesome. But you could stay on base and never even realize you were in another country. We didn't want that. We wanted to live in a German neighborhood, in a German town, shop at German butchers and bakeries...really get the full experience. So you can imagine our disappointment when we were told that it is now required for all US military personnel to live on-base, unless there is no on-base housing available. Thank God there wasn't. However, there was an off-base government house available (meaning off base but owned by the Army, so still treated as "on-base" living) and a few other off base options. The tricky part was if we refused the government housing, then the Army stops paying for us to stay in our temporary lodging (the hotel). So there's a little bit of pressure there. The housing office gave Z the key and the address to the government-owned house so we were able to check it out today. I was nervous and honestly didn't have very high expectations.
It's a brand new townhouse-type house. Never been lived in. Two stories, plus a basement. All appliances included (that's unheard of in German housing, not to mention American, full-sized appliances). Tons of windows. Big backyard. A garage. An insane amount of storage in the basement (because one of us, and it's not me, owns a 17' kayak...and where do you put that?) Two bathrooms WITH SHOWERS. I'll say it again...WITH. SHOWERS. Do you know how many German houses don't have showers? They are all about the bathtubs here. AND...perhaps the best part...no wait, this is not the best part. The best part is that all three of the bedrooms have built-in closets. Closets and showers. JACKPOT. Ok the OTHER best part is that this house includes both German and US outlets. Meaning we don't have to buy new electronics or kitchen appliances or have huge ugly transformer boxes all over our house.
We'll take it. Where do I sign? Woops, how do you like it, Zach?
(He loved it, too. It's ok.) Of course this is just too good to be true so I immediately worried that between now and when we sign the contract on Monday, something will happen and we'll have to start the househunt all over again. It just couldn't have been that easy, or that fast, right? I am continually amazed at how God has gone before us in every step of this process...it's overwhelming and we really feel unworthy of a lot of the blessings...and I think that's why it's such a beautiful thing. And even if the house falls through and we end up looking for someplace else and it takes two more weeks, and even if all of our stuff gets lost or takes a month to get to our new house, and even if it all feels like nothing is working out...we still know God has gone before us and we're confident about the path He's leading us on.
But I will still cry if the house falls through.
We're very excited about the house, but also about the neighborhood and town. Our immediate neighbors will be other military officers and their families, but the majority of the town is German and it definitely feels that way. We spent a long time walking around, finding parks, bakeries, grocery stores, restaurants. It's really a great area and we couldn't be more pleased. There was only one thing that seemed a bit "off". It seemed that everywhere we walked we'd run into small groups of teenagers or college-aged guys (mostly) dressed in black (or shirtless), with long hair, multiple piercings and tattoos...just kind of grungy and gang-like. They seemed to be just wandering around and were certainly making me a little nervous. So I'm all "Zach, I can't live here! There's gangs of ruffians and I'll be home alone during the day and they'll try to get in the house and snatch me!" Z admitted that it was a little strange, but we also saw tons of young children riding their bikes around unattended, so it had to be a safe area, right? Z eventually nailed down what was happening...he's a super sleuth and in the Army, so with those powers combined he was able to notice all of these people were wearing similar shirts and hats and their shirts matched the band name on posters that were plastered throughout town. Turns out, it's Wackel Fest this weekend in a larger city nearby. Of course! How did we miss that? Wackel is apparently a band with a more...alternative following. These people were killing time before heading to the concert. In fact, we think they mostly spent the night in our little town in order to avoid the hotel fees of a bigger city. Also we saw them bathing in a public fountain, soooo...there's that. As we drove away Zach sighed and said "Man, I'm glad we don't have gangs of ruffians wandering around our town". I'm pretty sure he was making fun of me, but I really did feel much better.
We spent the rest of our day exploring the big city nearby, and it was wonderful. They even have a mall, and people walk their dogs around inside. We definitely plan to go back and do some more exploring of the city, but we were getting tired (and Z's head was getting sunburnt...that's the real reason, let's be honest) so we headed back towards base so Zach could show me the PX and Commissary. True story, I'm an Army wife and have never been to either one. Shameful. Anyways, I didn't realize how happy seeing those English words and familiar brands would make me. It was such a relief to know I could buy Goldfish and Scrubbing Bubbles and JIF peanut butter. And I almost hugged a box of Cheerios. I almost did. But that would have been weird. I still plan to do most of my shopping locally, but it did my heart good to be in a familiar place. I'm thankful for that. I even heard a very Southern accent scolding some children in a nearby aisle and that made me so happy.
It's the little things...