22 November 2011

How did we get here?

We have traveled from our home in northern Minnesota, where we have lived for the past four years.  My husband and I have three children--William, Emily, and Sarah, who are off to college and beginning their respective lives.  After 25 years in the Minnesota National Guard as a military family, it seemed a good time for us to experience some of our lifelong dreams and thus we have landed in Germany.  I am really unemployed and have been for the most part of four years since we moved to the Brainerd MN area.  My background is nonprofit management and early childhood education--not in high demand up north, particularly with up to 19% unemployment.

While my husband still works for the US Army, he does so as a civilian.  For those of you who have been lifers in the military, this takes a slight readjustment.  While it is not a lot different (being employed by the military or the government), there are some things that are different.  Clear as mud, right?  Any hoo, we began applying for positions over a year ago in various parts of Europe.  It is not a short process--it took us at least 6 months from the beginning of the application to boots on the ground in Germany.  A lot of nail biting as well.  The most distressful part was having about 4-5 weeks notice to pack up the house and put it on the market!  That was a full time job for me and it was lucky I wasn't working at the time.  We are not optimistic that this nice 5-bedroom home will sell fast in this dead housing market.  But with a few prayers and fingers crossed, it will sell.

Did I mention that we have three dogs?  Two Yorkshire Terriers (Nacho and Bella) and one Shetland Sheepdog (Phoebe).  The Yorkies are really our daughters' dogs, but they are in college and not able to care for them.  Phoebe is an older dog (about 11).  So with all that was on our plates, we had to add getting the dogs "passport papers," shots, kennels/carriers, and official signatures on their documents.  We had kennels, but do you think these would be acceptable now?  No way!  We had to purchase three new carriers/kennels that were acceptable for airline travel (at least on United Airlines)--don't get me started on that subject (another time).

The move--the government moved us--Yeah!  But that doesn't mean we were off the hook for getting some work done.  We had to declutter and downsize.  We had to decide what was going where--to the kids, to charities, to long-term storage (which is officially called not temporary storage), baggage, unaccompanied baggage, or in the household goods shipment.  Oh and we needed new carpet in some areas of the house and the rest of it had to be cleaned--after the movers had been there.  I rescheduled the cleaners at least three times!  That was my job!  And I thought it would never get done, but it did.  During the last ten days, we had two kid/friend truck hauls to Minneapolis, one truckload delivery to Goodwill in St. Cloud (do you really want to know about the Goodwill/Salvation Army policies in a too small town?), 2 days of long term storage packing and loading, 2 days of household goods packing and loading (10 crates), and then the 600 pounds of unaccompanied baggage.  Finally we loaded 7 suitcases and dufflebags, 2 Yorkie carriers, and 1 large kennel into the poor old minivan and headed to Minneapolis International Airport.  We stayed overnight in the Twin Cities and got to the airport three hours prior to departure--which was barely enough time.  Checking bag and dog, getting through security, buying some Euros, and grabbing a cup of coffee took all of that time and when we were done, we raced across the airport to our gate (which was on the other side from the Euro place).  I told John I was going on when they let those who need assistance on and that's what we did.

After a 3 hour layover in Chicago, finding a place for the Yorkies to do what they needed, we loaded back on a plane and arrived in Frankfurt, Germany on Saturday, November 5.  And the dogs were great--not a peep.  We were so worried about them whining or needing to go to the potty, that I was completely stressed out by the time we were on the plane.  But everyone made it alive.  More later...  FitzDew

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