Packing for a Month Away

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What do you pack when you’re leaving for over a month? Well, not only are we homeless and carless for one month and ten days, we’re staying in eight locations over that time frame. That is a lot of places. We’ve just arrived to location number 4 and I’m very thankful that the first afternoon of nap-fighting has the reward of some seriously quiet awesome nap time on day two. Fun. Fun. Fun. Sorry about the new digs, kids… again… You’re troopers.

For the record, I’ve only forgotten two items so far and that was because I unpacked into a side table drawer. I like organization to a fault, which means I enjoy unpacking into a new space upon arrival… But I also am more likely to forget something. (Thankfully those two items got back to me very easily–thanks to family.)

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So, we have one big luggage, one small luggage, two back-packs and a messenger bag. These transponders have saved our lives. (We brought car seats so we can rent cars when needed and get around in each location.) (Maybe in 5 years our luggage could look like the above photo? That’d be fun. Also, our next luggage will definitely be the hard shell kind.)

So, here’s what we brought!

In our big luggage:

  • Clothing (I tried tried tried to pack about 5-7 outfits for each of us.)
  • Bathing suits
  • Belts, ties, socks, etc.

In our small luggage:

  • Sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Dress Shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Two Sound machines
  • Two extra pacifiers (can’t. run. out.)
  • Medicine–Baby Tylenol and Loratadine
  • Journal
  • Clutch for date nights (I switched out my purse for the backpack on this trip.)

In Brian’s Backpack (which is our diaper bag):

  • Diapers for the day (we’ve purchased diapers in the small pack in each location)
  • Extra set of clothes
  • A laptop
  • Two sippy cups
  • Two bibs
  • Two snack cups

In my Backpack:

  • DSLR camera and 4 lenses
  • A laptop
  • Wallet and similar “purse” items like ibuprofen, lipstick and gum

In our messenger bag:

  • Airport Time Capsule (This device has all my photos which are not backed up in another location. I simply couldn’t put it on a ship and send it away for 6 weeks. It makes me too nervous.)
  • Books
  • Baby doll and dog (R’s and G’s “comfort friends”)
  • Snacks for travel
  • Two safety harnesses for the kids. This one and this one. With five flights in one month and future travel this year, we decided it was worth it.
  • And funny enough… some paperwork with personal information because we didn’t have a safe way to shred and dispose of it. hah. Bonfire anyone?

Oh, I guess I cheated. We brought George’s backpack, too. It has books, coloring books (mess free!), and only a few small toys–like cars. George is responsible for carrying it.

We’ve now flown twice with our kids and the apple ear buds are insufficient for toddler ears. I purchased these and hopefully they’ll hold up. (Because I don’t want any more frustration outbursts when the huge ear bud falls out of the tiny ear… again.)

We’re doing great! Travel is exhausting, but the amazing treat is getting to spend quality time with family. We’re being careful not to accumulate much of anything in each location because we simply can’t fit it all in. I have prayed with much fervor each time I have painstakingly packed our two checked luggages and then again when it is being weighed. I have been within 1.5 lbs of the 50 lb limit each time. Let’s pray that continues.

Stay tuned for more stories on house hunting! So many adventures in an international move!

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The Move

The moving company came and went. And yes, getting quotes and deciding what company we wanted was it’s own adventure. For example, if you can’t show up at all or on time to walk through our home for an estimate, we’re not going to contract with you for our international move. Logical, no? It certainly helped narrow down the choices!

We didn’t pack a thing. (Perks.) BUT, that doesn’t mean we didn’t do any work… I promise. We loaded up about 10 bags of donation items (kind of embarrassing, but real life, yo). And yes, this is version 2.0. Last year, we did the same thing as we prepared to move to Boston. And I couldn’t believe how much we got rid of. We successfully settled into 900 sq ft in Boston and we anticipate having about the same amount of space in Hamburg.

But, deciding what to ship across the ocean is a different decision process. 1 square foot costs $10 to ship. If its value is less than $10 and it’s 1 sq ft or bigger: it ain’t going. We got rid of lots of clothing, stuffed animals, extra linens, etc. We also got rid of tired and broken items like our dinning room chairs, changing table, crib, and a laundry basket. Those items were fun to pitch! I guess fun for me. George cried when we pitched his (broken!) laundry basket. I wasn’t prepared for the “It’s totally fine!” pep talk with a smile. I was mostly baffled why he was attached to it!)

Another difference is that we’ll have a different kind of electricity when we arrive. That means we parted with any “cheaper” appliances like our toaster, coffee maker, hair dryer, waffle iron, lamps and fans. I’m hoping to buy an amazing coffee maker. I might even vote for an espresso machine. And yes, we packed the ice cream maker. Priorities are priorities.

So, we’ve been moved. We survived the move morning with streaming shows for the toddlers:

Moving

But, eventually that wore off and the kids were squirrely. I also felt helpless as they packed us and I wasn’t doing… anything. So, we enjoyed the amazing benefit of going out to lunch while they packed us up.

I didn’t regret my quick search of the kitchen cabinets as I found a few extra items that they didn’t pack and sent them along with the company. But, despite my best efforts of eating our pantry down to nothing, my frugal self died a little inside as we thew away things that went unpacked accidentally, like our aprons, and sent all of the leftover eggs, beer, bread, yogurt, and balsamic vinegar to the dumpster. Ouch. And I worked hard to not waste anything! Oy. I didn’t totally succeed.

So, we’re done. Our stuff is on a boat in a cargo container and is on its way to Germany. It takes 4-6 weeks and in the meantime we’re soaking up the sun and quality time with family. We’ve already enjoyed South Bend and its many family members, and are currently enjoying spending time with my sisters in Michigan. Coming up next? Florida, a getaway sans kids to Miami, NY, NJ and Spain. Three cheers for a summer vacation after a year of grad school!

Hip, Hip! HOORAY!

 

A visit

“You’re moving to Germany?! Have you ever been there?! Do you speak German?!”

Yes. For 48 hours! And, no. Ich spreche kein deutsch.

“48 hours?!” you say? Yes! And here’s the story!

In February, my mother-in-law, Beth, agreed to come for 4 days while Brian and I flew to Europe to see the school and city where we were considering moving our family. I cannot tell you how grateful I was to go sans kiddos. It was tiring enough! Hah.

The first thing I have been dying to tell you–fly Lufthansa. It was amazing. They served us dinner, a small breakfast, glasses of wine (or scotch, if that’s your thing. Or beer, if that’s your thing… Or… you get the picture) and hot towels for our faces as we attempted to get some shut-eye in the sky. They were kind, orderly, and I will fly with them whenever I get the chance. Also, you can watch the live stream video during take-off and landing from the camera placed on the belly of the plane. So. Cool. Also, if you look like me and are flying to Germany, expect people to talk to you in German. I look German… because I am. (And no, I don’t speak German.)

Life in the skies

When we arrived, the head of school graciously picked us up at the airport. We drove directly to visit the school because the way to beat jet lag is to say no no no! to sleep when you arrive. We drove through the outskirts of Hamburg and I spent a moment in awe of the fact that any place is still just a place. It sounds silly to say, but there are cars, roads, construction, schools and thankfully, the cars drive on the right side of the road. But, yes… It is also different… and much older.

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We arrived and entered the school. Here’s the entryway to the school, complete with coffee (what a wonderful, welcome sight when we arrived!):

Entryway

It was a beautiful school! Built brand new and very fun to tour. Here are a few more photos:

CafeteriaGymSchool Playground

The cafeteria, gym (they teach parkour!), and the playground.

We went on the tour, and regrettably, I didn’t get a photo of my future office… Because, well, that would’ve been kind of weird. But, I’ll be honest: I’m excited not to be in a cubicle, even if I won’t be able to see Boston from 18 floors up!

After visiting the school, I was very grateful to go to lunch. We had great conversation over lunch and we got to see some beautiful views from a castle in Hamburg. THIS. All of this:

Brian

Believe it or not, the weekend just went on and on–in a good way! We went out to drinks with a few other people from the school. We drove through the city of Hamburg, looking at neighborhoods that we could possibly live in–and yes, comparing how close all of them were to Aldi. Guys. They have Aldi. It’s the land of Aldi. It’s Aldi’s home place. You should see Brian’s laughter over my excitement on this front. Oh, and the sushi. Swoon.

Sushi

Oh, but then we had to fly home. We woke early in the morning and drove the airport and I felt terrible. Brian lovingly convinced me to get a 15 minute massage from a man who began my massage and said in a German accent, “VAT HAS HAPPENED?!” and “How do you Live like DIS!?” Thankfully, that man in the airport made me headache free for the first time that day, and I felt like a flight over the ocean might be a bit bearable. Thanks, Brian, for encouraging me. (Oh how I wish I was not the nausea-ridden flyer that I am… especially with this new life.)

I remember the first night we (finally) settled into our hotel bed and I turned to Brian and said, “Are we really going to move to Germany? I could definitely live here.” 3 months later, I can say, “Yes. We’re moving to Germany. And I’m excited to live there!”

Hamburg downtown

The plans

Everyone has been SO very patient! Thanks for not posting on our walls and sending the same question to our emails over and over and over again: “What are you going to do next year?!”

As a reward for your patience, I won’t kill you with suspense. If you were to come over for dinner, our son George would tell you very confidently, “I’m moving to Germany! And when I go to Germany, I’m going to wear a backpack and go to school!”

RathouseGo ahead. Take a deep breath. I know. Right?!

Brian is finishing his masters program in School Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. On May 25, he will walk across the stage with both kiddos in hand! And yes, you’ll need to stay tuned to see how that goes… I’m praying for two cooperative children, buuuut…

While job searching this year, Brian interviewed with a woman, also a graduate of the School Leadership program, who is head of a new school in Hamburg, Germany called International School Campus. They are just finishing their first year, and will be growing a lot over the next few years. After much conversation, a quick two-day visit, and a job offer for both of us, we decided that this was an opportunity we could not pass up. And yes… the a-maz-ing coffee the whole time we were there definitely helped. (Especially with the jet lag.)

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I will be the Deputy Business Manager and Brian will be the Director of Advancement and Admissions. Our kids will be immersed in a German-speaking preschool run by the same parent company.  They will most certainly be scheming together in German within six months. We’re sure of it!

hamburg-2255755Our new fair city!

We are hoping to live in the suburbs of Hamburg, close to school. According to those who know, it takes less than a week to see an apartment, shake a hand, write a check, and move in. So, while our research is fun, we won’t know where we’re going to live until we arrive. (If you’re looking for an idea, here is an example of what we like.)

But first? Brian will walk across that stage! And then? They will come and pack (FOR US!) all of our things and put them on a cargo container to be shipped across the ocean. For the record, I almost said yes to our German adventure just for the company that comes to pack us up and move us.

It will take about 6 weeks for our container to sail to Germany, and we will be visiting our family during that time! Midwest, Florida, and New York: we can’t wait to come out and see you! Oh, and why not throw in a vacation in Spain for four nights on the way over? Twist my arm.

It’s been a big year. I’m grateful it’s coming to a close and ecstatic about all that awaits us. I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

I can’t wait to share more details with you! I’ll most certainly do a post on our two day visit in February and keep you posted as we settle in this summer. If you have an itch for more, feel free to visit my About page!

Tschüss!