We’re back! After a few very exciting weeks in the United States, the kids and I have safely returned to Germany and are in the process of transitioning back into our normal routine. Though I was a little hesitant about the aspect of traveling with two small children, I’m happy I had the opportunity to see my friends and family. It was fun to share stories about what our life in Europe is like with those I don’t get to communicate with as often as I would like. Along the way I made new friends, spoiled nieces and nephews, and most importantly, created lasting memories with the two best kiddos I know.
When I ended my last post, we were on our way to Colorado and landing a few hours earlier than expected. We landed so early that my mom had yet to arrive in the area to pick us up, and I found myself in a bit of a frustrating situation as we flew into the Colorado Springs Municipal Airport but were not taken to the actual airport where we could be easily picked up. Fort Carson has a very small passenger terminal that is geographically separated from the actual base. We were told we could call Uber or a cab but neither of these options worked for me because I had not brought car seats. Those who worked at the terminal were ready to go home and I ended up having to sit in a parked van just outside the perimeter of the airport with a couple of Army guys while my mom rushed to complete the remainder of her journey. At the time, I was incredibly frustrated but in hindsight it was probably good because it more or less forced the kids to remain awake despite the fact that it was way past their German bedtime. We didn’t end up falling asleep until 9:00 or 10:00 Colorado time, which would’ve been closer to 4:00 in the morning for us. The transition to stateside time could not have been easier.
Of course, we still had to drive to Tulsa. Within fifteen minutes of being in the car, while we were still in Colorado Springs, Emma asked if we had arrived in Grandma and Grandpa’s new neighborhood. She was quite unhappy when we broke the news that there were still 600 miles ahead of us. Aside from some (a lot of) crying, the drive was rather uneventful. My mom and I did find it entertaining when we stopped in Hays, Kansas for lunch at Freddy’s because Emma said, “Hey! How did we get our food so quick?”
American fast food, oh, how I’ve missed you.
I hated that we could not stop in Wichita to see our old friends but after 11 hours in a plane and so many in the car, the last thing I wanted to do was prolong our trip. From the highway, we could see the hospital where Talon was born. We passed the exit only a few miles away from our old house, and it was kind of strange to know that not too long ago, that would’ve been the end of the trip for us. I hope that a future trip will bring us closer to McConnell under better circumstances, because it would be great to remind Emma of where she spent the first four years of her life, visit the people who made our time so enjoyable there, and grab some cookies from our favorite bakery.
Instead we continued to Oklahoma and the fun began. Within a few days, we were rested and playing with cousins, stuffing our faces with Hideaway Pizza, and buying all the things at Target. We took trips to the aquarium and the zoo, played at the neighborhood splash pad and in uncle Brandon’s water sprinkler, and admired Grandma and Grandpa’s new house. Emma loved meeting her new cousin, “Baby Aaron” and Zach’s stepsister conveniently had her baby two weeks early so we were able to spend time with baby Rae as well. My children have no shortage of cousins on either side of their family, and Emma’s early fifth birthday party was made especially memorable to her with their presence. We only missed seeing our Montana cousins, Ivory and Sylvan.
In typical Oklahoma fashion, there were a few tornados. I’m no stranger to severe weather—a tornado decided to eat my roof back in 2012. Ever since, I’ve (reasonably?) been terrified of anything heavier than a steady rain. That night, I knew the weather called for storms but they were not expected to be severe. I awoke at around 1:30 in the morning when my parent’s Amazon Echo spoke a cautionary warning to check local media outlets. At first, I dismissed the warning, assuming it was only for the already predicted, non-tornadic thunderstorms. I also might have verbally assaulted the Echo for potentially waking up my children. As I laid in bed listening to the wild thunder, I thought I heard a faint high pitched noise in the distance. The paranoia in me thought they could be tornado sirens, and they probably were, because when I looked at my phone, it was all like, “TORNADO WARNING-SAVE YOURSELF!”
Talon was not too happy that his mother was cramming him into a coat closet in the middle of the night. Emma cried that she had left her Little Mermaid fidget spinner in the bedroom. The first local news channel I turned to was still playing normal programming, and I wondered at first if the warning was even for us (it was) or if it was meant for a few counties over (it wasn’t). By the time I figured out where it was and what was going on, it had already passed us. From what I understand, a tornado spun up out of nowhere about 10 miles from my parents’ house, stayed on the ground for a few miles, and went back up in the sky. Then, it dropped back down only a mile west of us, and headed slightly southeast. We were lucky not to lose power. A lot of houses in the neighborhood west of us had damage to their roofs, and just outside our neighborhood, there were lots of downed lines and trees. The worst of the damage was where it initially touched down, but it was still scary nonetheless.
My parents should be happy they moved, because I drove past their old house and it had lost part of the fence. I’m happy they moved, because an old neighbor mentioned they could hear the tornado from their house and I’m almost certain I would’ve soiled myself. If you’re not from Oklahoma, you probably don’t know that in addition to the severe weather, Okies have practically no way to protect themselves against it because the houses don’t have basements. To all my friends in Oklahoma, I strongly encourage you to invest in a safe room because there is nothing more terrifying than hearing that something big is headed directly for you and knowing that there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
Get a safe room!
About halfway through my trip, I began to worry about how I’d feel when I had to leave. Obviously I missed Zach and Boomer, but the United States was so in-my-face with its convenience and accessibility. I’d honestly forgotten how much bigger the washer and dryers are there, and how you don’t have to dump the water from the dryer after every load. I enjoyed my shopping trips and my mom being around to babysit so I could actually shop in the first place. The kids didn’t complain about being in the car, and it didn’t take us forever to get anywhere. The ability to interact with my siblings, for my kids to play with their cousins, and to spend time with my parents and in-laws has an intangible value, and it is not so often replicated in Germany. Home is so familiar. I didn’t realize how much I miss it.
The day I arrived back in Germany, I headed out to grab something for dinner after taking what was probably a six hour nap. I paused as I stepped onto my front porch, aware of the near-perfect 60 degree weather and the greenery around me. Germany is truly beautiful. Even though I’m far away from everything I’ve ever known, I’m happy. I’m happy because I am so incredibly lucky in all aspects of my life. I have a great family, great friends at home and abroad, an education, a roof over my head, and the opportunity to live in Europe, which I’ve always wanted to do.
Most importantly, I have Talon and Emma. Two kids that prove to me every day that they are truly amazing, no matter what is being thrown at them. In the past few weeks they’ve endured 55 degree planes and road trips that seem to go on forever, time away from their dad and even more time apart from an extended family that cares about them almost as much as we do. They are resilient. I’m so happy to be their mom.
I’d love to tell you more about our time in the states, but I think I ought to save it for another time. Thank you for reading!