Okay...We left off with me being driven crazy in apartment style living. We searched for houses, we rented cars...We had an autobahn experience!
Driving in Germany, is honestly like driving anywhere else. Some drivers are courteous, some are not, there are new laws to learn about being in a new place, and the fact that we don't speak German sometimes means we don't do everything the right way the first time. We did get lost on the autobahn more than once...we got on the autobahn after ignoring a very clearly marked "Do not enter" construction zone. Had to find a way off that.
We did eventually find a house to live in. It is considered remote - no village shops, very little public transportation. But it really isn't far from the autobahn, maybe 10 mins. There are also villages nearby which offer shops & public transport, should we want it. We can also get to Ramstein without using the autobahn if we prefer. Really, we are about 20-25 minutes to Ramstein & Landstuhl, which isn't bad at all. The house we found is 4 levels...with some rooms on the upper floors that we have allowed our girls to take over for themselves. They get their own rooms, and have a play room. In all honesty, while we like our house, we are kind of disappointed in picking this area. There's not really anything wrong with it, but since the husband works at LRMC & we use Vogelweh & Kleber at least twice a month, it really would have made more sense to live further south. We have a 12 month lease, and we are not sure if we want to hassle with moving out at the end or not. Especially since it would be mid-school year. And the cost - we aren't sure if we can afford to move ourselves after some of our mishaps (which I will detail later)!
We first rented a car to help us with our search for a house. We continued to rent a car b/c our own vehicle was damaged during transport. Having 1 vehicle meant some days I had to wake the kids up super early to be out of the house early enough to drop my husband at work, then drop the big one off at school. I had to find a way to feed them breakfast before the fast food places opened, and so that it would be in their bellies before I had to leave one at the school house door. Momgenuity. I've got it (eh, sometimes). I used our cups that we're always bringing home from restaurants. This way, if it gets left in the car I don't feel like I need to save it, I can just toss it. I made some instant oatmeal in a bowl & poured it in to the cups (the plastic in these things aren't stellar - it leaves the cups very pliable & HOT, I really do think cooking then pouring is the way to go). The kids could carry them outside, with the utensil waiting. THEN, in the car, I poked the spoons through going the "wrong" way (the straw goes through the lid from the top, well I pushed the end of the spoon up through the bottom/wrong side of the lid), and now we have a spill guard! And when the meal is over, they can put the lids back on the cups & the dirty spoon sits IN the cup, rather than being left on the seat of the car, stuck to clothes, or to the bottom of a shoe.
- We found a house! But FMO (temp furnishings) couldn't deliver until a certain date & TLA (gives us money to live temporarily) was giving us a hard time about it. Only gave us permission to extend at the very last possible moment - leaving us tired & stressed.
- A helpful neighbor shows up to tell me all the horrible things about our house. That she used to live in. Don't get me wrong, she's a wonderful, sweet woman. But she scared the ever living fuck out of me and sent me screeching to the housing office - who managed to give me another set of problems! We started referring to Germany as "Doucheland".
- Husband hit a deer in a rental car - we had to pay for damages.
- Our own car is damaged in transit, no one wants to take responsibility for it. We are told to repair the damage, file a claim, then maybe get reimbursed after 3-6 months.
- Another accident with the rental car. This time we have their insurance. Our only out of pocket cost is about 100 euro. We were driving a Yaris (they're tiny!) and someone came left of center on a curve & clipped our mirror. Of course, they said it was our fault, we believe it's theirs. The thing is, we actually noticed them before the incident & moved over b/c they were taking up a lot of space.
- Our car in shop for repairs has some minor wear & tear maintenance that also needs to be completed b/c we know we'll need them done to pass inspections. Unrelated to the transit issue, but worrying b/c of the rising costs of the final bill.
- Another rental car accident. Husband on the autobahn - moving along very speedily. Someone coming on from the on-ramp jumps over too many lanes. Husband slams on breaks to avoid smashing her. Rental fishtails, other driver disappears. 3,000 euro worth of damages. But we have the insurance this time. We pay about 100 euro. :)
- Final bill on our personal auto: 2800 euro. 1500 due to the transit issue, which hopefully one day, will be returned to us. We take car for inspection to register. Small oil leak is found & cosmetic damage from an old accident (they hit me!) we never bothered to repair must be repaired b/c the inspector says if it fell of, it could be a risk for other drivers. We understand, but it seems like a stupid reason. Considering we've been driving it for about 2 years this way. The loose plastic pieces are gone, what's left is a hole where plastic used to be.
- The worrying thing about the leak & hole that need repair, is that we are now on our SECOND set of temporary tags. We can only have 2 sets in 6 months. If our good friend the auto mechanic cannot help us take care of it in the next few days - we will be carless for the next 4 months.
- In all we've spent quite a bit of money on rental cars & vehicle repairs. Quite a bit more than we ever planned to spend. It's been very frustrating & left us feeling pretty worn out.
- Our neighbors are good people. The ones we have met only seem to want to help us. This feels good.
- We have mobile trucks in our village selling bakery & dairy items. This is cute. It's like having an ice cream truck...but you can get pumpkin seed rolls & donuts.
- Doners are yummy. Keine zwieble - I know how to ask for no onions.
- We only have a very short drive to get us to familiar American things. American money, restaurants, English language instructions on items. It feels good.
- My husband is home...with low chances of deployment - this makes my heart feel full. I know he wishes it were different, he likes doing his job - and he is good at it.
- With all that has gone wrong - now we know. We can learn from it, and hopefully help others so the same things don't happen to them!