Moving From Germany Back to the USA

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Change is hard. So very hard. But good. But hard.
I've sort of been avoiding writing this post because I've been in denial that we don't actually live in Germany anymore. Just looking through all the photos from the past few weeks literally brings tears to my eyes. I miss EVERYTHING. Even staus (traffic jams).
On the flip side - holy cow it is awesome to be HOME.
So let's recap the last couple crazy weeks shall we?
On Monday June 26th four packers came and started boxing up and hauling away all our stuff. It started getting real from then on out.
Loaner Army furniture (the lovely purple couches seen below and in some of the following photos) was brought in the same day the movers came so it was a bunch of shuffling around and lots of big messes.
This is what I get for trying to be helpful! (I tried taking apart an IKEA expedit unit by myself.) Almost 3 weeks later and my finger still hurts but thankfully doesn't look so bad anymore, I think it might be broken but I don't really want to go through the hassle of going to a doctor so I'll wait a little longer and hope and pray it gets better on its own.
Rachel is the best.
What was once my favorite room in the house became "wide open spaces".
I kept a lot of scrappy stuff with me to keep me sane during all this chaos. Scrapbooking is literally my therapy.

During all this craziness Chris was the best and watched the kids while I went to Amberg to learn how to make a neat style of bookbinding from Stephanie. Can't wait to try it again!
One last date to Nuremberg.

One last time to Edeka to stock up on gummy bears.
I had to take Joey and Rachel to the vet four times to get their shots updated and health certificates for flying. Rachel peed 3 of the 4 times in her crate in the 1/2 hour car ride there so I was very nervous and anxious for her on the flights home.
Why had I never noticed these colorful buildings in Grafenwöhr before?! I LOVE how bold they paint buildings in Europe.

Last sunset view in our home. Man my heart hurts seeing this! I miss it!
By this point, I just wanted to leave and get it all over with. It didn't feel like our home anymore. We still had 5 more nights in a hotel to get through.
 It is difficult logistically to pack for all the many different periods of adjustment and limbo - living in our "home" for 5 days, hotel living for 5 days, a month or so of living with my parents, what to bring with us for the long haul, what to ship that arrives in September, what to ship that arrives in August, what to bring with us that is essential for everyday use, what to carry on the plane, plus thinking about the pets and their short and long term well being on top of all of that. I think I sprouted 53 new gray hairs throughout this process.
I ended up bringing 2 suitcases of scrap stuff - one just had my sewing machine then I filled the rest of it with chocolate for my dad, and then this blue beast below. A lot of the things in this suitcase I ended up putting in boxes and shipped to my parent's house because it was so heavy. I'm happy to report those two boxes made it to me on Thursday! Also somewhere in this suitcase is my Cameo and tripod. Can't live without them! Oh and one more suitcase designated just for my desktop computer wrapped in all our blankets and bedding... 3 suitcases of the 8 we brought were my crap... I love my family for putting up with me!

Then we moved into the hotel. It was surreal walking into it again after 4 years. We had the exact same style room and it was almost like we never left.
Kids playing on the playground in 2017.
Kids playing on the playground in 2013.
Kids in the hotel in 2013 & 2017. Time flies!

One nice thing about the hotel is it has AC which is awesome for the summer months which do get unbearably hot for a few weeks.
5 days went by pretty quick. We shipped our 2nd car so we were then car-less (the first was shipped a few weeks ago). We went bowling together as a family next door for the first time which was fun. I also tried a coconut curry soup at a place on base that has been there for a couple years and it was delicious! I'm so sad I'd been missing out! I would have eaten it all.the.time. I went to my good friend's baby shower. Chris and I took turns walking across the street to see Spider-Man at the Tower Theater. Then it was time to fly!

The day of moving over here was the Worst with a capital W. Reading back through that blog post gives me heart palpitations. It was miserable and pretty much everything that could go wrong, did. So I think I was justified in my anxiety about flying home. Luckily we had a few things going for us like less flights (2 vs 3) and flying back into known territory with family to help and take care of us.

At 5am on the dot (yay for German efficiency!) the taxi came to the airport and we loaded up our 8 suitcases, 2 animals and their crates, 4 humans, 2 carseats, 2 carryons, and 2 handbags. It all fit! We drove about an hour and a half to the Nuremberg airport. There was no line and we checked all the suitcases at the counter, paid the animal fees, then brought Joey and Rachel and the carseats over to bulky baggage where we gave the pets massive hugs and told them it'd be okay and we'd see them on the other side of the world.
I waited by the window until I could see Joey and Rachel getting loaded onto the airplane.
"Christopher Evans" was called over the airport speaker to go to baggage security... apparently they wondered what my sewing machine was but all was good. The flight from Nuremberg to Frankfurt was only 25 minutes. I would have rather skipped this flight all together but the way SATO works we had to go to Nuremberg first. Whatevs. It was fine. One step closer!
When we were checking in at Nuremberg we were told that none of our seats were together on the flight from Frankfurt to Seattle (a 10 hour flight...) and we were like... uhhh... our kids can't not sit with us! We were told to go to the counter at Frankfurt and get help. So Chris did, but the lady was not helpful, she said we'd have to talk to a stewardess once we boarded. About a half hour later "Christopher Evans" was called over the airport speaker (that's twice in a day after never in a lifetime!) and they told him they got us pairs of seats together but they were far away from each other. Better than nothing!

We lounged around the Frankfurt airport for just over an hour and then we boarded and the plane left right on time. We LOVE Lufthansa! About halfway through the flight someone came over the intercom and said "Christopher Evans please contact a member of the flight crew." I freaked out. I thought someone had died. Turns out they just had instructions for us for what to do about the pets once we de-planed. Phew!

Flying over Greenland was cool. Awesome terrain and landscape!

I spy Redmond on the map! Almost there!
Just about to land! Thank goodness! 10 hours is a long time on an airplane amiright?
The sign says it all! Jane's first time in the good ol' US of A since she was 11 months (now she's almost 5) and Fox's first time since he was 2.5 (now he's almost 7)!!
Going through customs was a pain in the buttinsky because it was slow and monotonous and I had to deal with a really super rude customs agent (he said to me so very condescendingly, "Am I talking too fast for you? Do you understand me?" RUDE!). But all-in-all it was painless and easy and shortly thereafter we were blissfully reunited with Rachel and Joey! Miraculously neither had peed in his or her crate and both have adjusted to living in my parent's house marvelously. Joey and Gypsy (my parent's dog) are BFFs and it seems like Rachel remembers living here for the 6 weeks before we moved to Germany. She's not hiding under blankets like she did in the Army hotel for the first few days. Nope, she's happy and healthy and loving life!

My mom/Grandma picked us up at the airport with sandwiches, goldfish, and Mountain Dew in hand  and we drove straight home. Door-to-door in less than 18 hours! WOW!

My brother Eric and his wife Tanya came over and brought their daughter Zoe - my first time meeting her and she's already almost 2! Goodness gracious she is such a little cutie! I'm so glad we'll be living here for at least a year so I can see her more.
Jet lag is serious. We're going on day 6 now and things are finally looking up.
Monday night neither Chris or I could sleep and the kids woke up at 4am.
Tuesday they woke up at 2:30am!
Wednesday they woke up at 3:30am.
Thursday they woke up at 4am.
Friday they woke up at 5:45am which is pretty much normal.
Today they woke up at 5:55am so I'd say they're adjusted!

Tuesday morning and where did we go first? Target of course!
Then we got McGriddles at McDonalds (why do they not have these in Europe!? They're delish! Syrup baked right into the pancake buns? GENIUS!). Then we went to the mother of all stores: Costco. We got new membership cards in under 5 minutes and new cell phones and contracts in another few minutes and checked out in a few more minutes. Customer service in America is polar opposite to Germany in a good way. Also we laughed out loud at the size of the shopping carts. They're freaking ginormous! Everything in America is supersized :)
On Wednesday Chris decided he better get started processing into his new work life at Joint Base Lewis McChord (or Ft. Lewis). This is a crappy shot, but the view of Mt. Rainier from the base is incredible.

Mmmm... an everything bagel with cream cheese schmear from the Einstein Bagel on post!
Chris signed in but couldn't start "in-processing" until 5:30am the next day. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive from my parent's house to the base. So he was up again at 3:30am to report for PT (physical training) at 5:30am, finished at 6:30am, only to be told he can't start in-processing (they're too "full" of new people coming in) and to come back the next morning and every morning thereafter until there's space for him to begin his 5 days of "death by powerpoint". The drive is killer, traffic gets ugly (Seattle is ranked #6 of the cities with the worst traffic in the USA. Los Angeles is #1 - we definitely endured our fair share of that during our 4 years living there!). So he's going to stay in a hotel next week. I will miss him :*(

House hunting! We're looking for a place to rent for the year that we are here. Who knows where we'll be next! I was hoping to stay in the PNW but it's too expensive right now so we're tinkering with Colorado. Stay tuned.
Building rockets with Grandpa that we'll launch next week. Also, Fox did exactly what I'd heard other kids who have lived overseas do when they return to the US: he asked how to flush the toilet! HAHAHA!!!! Isn't it funny how little things can be so different?
My parents renovated their kitchen over the past few years and it looks lovely!
Wednesday morning before going to the base we took my mom to the airport so she could fly to Vegas and become a grandma again to my little sister's baby! Daisy made her debut on Wednesday evening weighing almost 9 pounds and she's as cute as can be!

Thursday I took myself to Ben Franklin to window shop and see if I could find my collections, which I did (photo below is of Summer Lights and I also found Oh My Heart and bits of Take Me Away which is still so surreal and fun!)
Thursday and Friday morning I took the kids to swim lessons - we'll go every week day for the next two weeks.
And then we went to Target again (we're 4 for 4 now people!) For lunch we drove to Cafe Rio in Issaquah! Yummy yummy yummy. Just as good as I remembered!
Which brings us to the present.
The next few weeks/months are all up in the air. I don't know where we'll be, what we're doing, how long things will take, when Chris will be here or not, when our cars and stuff will arrive, etc... but I do know that we are a family, we have each other, and all of the crazy is only temporary. Everything will be okay!
It's good to be home even though we're so sad not to be in Germany anymore. I'm excited to "turn the page" in this book called life!


  1. Wow--thanks for the photo essay on the move. My brother-in-law and his family are going through the same thing as they move from Okinawa to ?? I am sure your family is glad to have you around for a while and good luck with house hunting, etc. etc.

  2. I'm soooooo happy that you're back!

  3. Welcome back to the USA, Evans family! Such a moving post - we can "hear" the flood of emotions as you look forward to family, the USA and new things, yet sadness for leaving behind such a precious part of your family story. My childhood was spent in Latin America where my parents worked as American expats. My husband and I later did the same thing with our own 3 kiddos. It never ceases to amaze me how that airplane door can close tight and when it re-opens a few hrs later your entire familiar world has changed! I have to admit laughing a bit at the rude customs official you encountered! From my perspective, I was FINALLY home again on American soil and I always felt ready to wrap my fellow American and citizens in huge hugs and just soak it all it with patriotic pride......- yet you guys get Mr RUDENESS! Humph!

    Thanks for this glimpse into facts of life for so many of our military families. Thank you Evans family for taking us along on your amazing journey, and most of all thanks for being willing to serve our country! We look forward to continuing to follow your family adventures.

    Welcome Home!!!

  4. Wow, what a journey you've all been on. I've never moved quite the distance you have, but leaving each area for a new one has always been hard for me - happy for the new adventures ahead, but sad about leaving the place we've been calling home for the past 3 or so years. Thinking about leaving each one still evokes emotions!
    Best wishes for your resettling.

  5. Oh my, what an adventure!! Glad you made it safe to the US, hope your new life will be as good as possible! Good luck with everything. Cant imagine moving all our staff somewhere .. but one never knows .. take care!

  6. Awwwwwwwww I bet it was bittersweet! You had so many adventures over in Europe (and thank you for sharing them with us!! I loved them all!)!!!! I am happy to hear the flight back WAS NOT the nightmare like the flight there! LOVING all the photos and I hope you get settled in soon! And I hope your finger is better soon!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Welcome back! I've always had a hard enough time moving just across town, so this whole adventures sounds super stressful and emotional to me. Best of luck with the adjustment and enjoy all your trips to Target and Costco!

  8. Welcome back! I have so enjoyed reading all of your posts during your travels just as much as I have enjoyed your paper crafting! So looking forward to seeing more paper crafting when you are settled and are not busy traveling! I have scrap booked for over 19 years and have made more cards lately. The sad part is, that when I am not scrap booking regularly I forget to take photos at gatherings and events. You inspire me to keep scrapping and taking photos! Thanks!

  9. Thanks for sharing your travels around Europe. But do t be a stranger, keep checking in as we've gotten used to watching the children grow! I have enjoyed your photos and your stories. See you gain soon.

  10. Hope you will be able to fully settle in soon and not miss Germany too much. It was great being able to attend a few workshops with you (including the first and the last :-), and you got the chance to make one of Mel's minis from CAR too! I remember the flushing thing one of my first questions when I was in the US as well - many years ago though.

  11. Oh my goodness! I loved reading this! I am curious, what is different about the toilets in Germany?! HA! Love reading about all of your adventures and your IG stories! Hope things continue to go smoothly for you all!

  12. Wow, what an emotional post, wishing you and your family all the best.

  13. Really? NOBODY will miss "Stau"... LOL
    And I am really exited to see that you tried my word-binding? Woohoo! <3
    Wish you and your family all the best for the future.

    1. Yes, even the staus :) I wish I could have taken any of your bookbinding classes!!!

  14. Noooo!! You leave (us) Europe!! I discover your amazing work few months ago and I didn't have the opportunity to do a class/course with you!! I am sooo sad... But let know us if you come again (with time) and I will do as much as possible to join one of them. I am in Spain (Madrid) but I will go around Europe to meet you. Your cards, layouts,mini-albums are amazing! You encourage me to do something new and difficult. I just buy a the wrmk sewing machine and I am trying to use it!! Thanks for your wonderful work and colourful imagination! You are my inspiration!!! 😽

  15. So happy you, your family and pets all arrived safe back in the States. I love the pics of the kids before and after your stay abroad. I love how your pics tell such a story. You've inspired me to go back through my pics of when we moved our family from WA to WI - just across the U.S. - nowhere near what you went through. I am thinking mini album.... yeah.. you'v gotten me hooked on those again!! haha!!


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