Sunday, July 15, 2012

God Bless America!

I've been a bit behind in my blogging, but we are finally back in America!  We are overjoyed to be home and have such a great respect for our country after our travels abroad. This post will talk about our trek across the Atlantic and the days following.

Five days before we left Germany, our freight shipment was scheduled to be picked up.  The restrictions on what can be air freighted is much more strict coming into the United States than leaving the States.  There were a lot of things that we were able to ship to Germany that we couldn't ship back, even though they were purchased stateside.  Those things included any liquids (shampoos, lotions, etc.), batteries (even the ones that were screwed into toys), and any type of medication (including vitamins).  This meant a lot of extras got left behind because we didn't have the space for them in our checked baggage. Pictured above is about 3/4 of the things that we had freighted back home.

 The winter clothes that we shipped home.  We decided to take four checked bags home with us instead of the six we came with, so we were a bit worried about making weight for the air freight.  We were allotted 180kg and everything weighed in at 178.45kg.  Talk about cutting it close!

The weekend before we came home, we had Dennis and Courtney over for dinner.  We had a great time hanging out and probably won't see them again for a long time.

 Brady and his buddy, Dennis.

 The Euro Cup was going on while we were preparing to leave and Germany was doing quite well.  We noticed everyone had flags all over their cars and we asked Dennis why we don't see them any other time.  He said that Germans showing pride with flags outside of sporting are called Nazis.  Crazy, huh?  We continued to watch Germany play once we got home and they made it to the semifinals before they lost to Italy.

 We handed over our keys to our landlord the day before we left.  The ultimate irony was that our landlord came in with a measuring tape and told us he was going to put in a clothes dryer for the next family moving in.  Talk about irony.  We decided it would be easiest to spend the night in a hotel close to the airport, since we had an early flight.  It also allowed us to return the rental car the night before and take the free airport shuttle right to the gate.  Poor Brady was stuffed in the car, but fortunately we got everything that we needed into the car.

We had a 9:30AM flight out of Stuttgart, so we got up bright an early to make it to the airport.  Go figure it's much harder to get back into the States (we should've known).  We were asked at every turn about our luggage and our reasons for going to the States.  There was even a point where we walked literally around a corner about ten feet and were asked for our passports and grilled about our luggage again.  We were very worried about our bags being overweight, and were very fortunate that the woman working the counter wasn't paying attention, because three of our four bags were over the 23kg (50lb) weight limit.

We were worried about how Brady would do on the flight because we were traveling all day, instead of overnight on the flight over.  We managed to get him to take a two hour nap and were lucky that our plane had individual touch screens on the headrests in front of us.  There was a wide selection of movies and shows that you could start at any time and that was key in keeping Brady calm.  

Our flight took us from Stuttgart to Newark and took about eight hours.  The best thing was landing in America and seeing the Statue of Liberty.  We visit New York a lot since my Oma lives in Queens, so we've played a game since I was a kid.  We take the Verrazano Bridge from Staten Island to Brooklyn and whoever spots it first wins.  Andy was looking out the window during landing and shouted, "I win the bridge game!"  I was more than happy to let him win, I was just so grateful to be home.

We had a three hour layover in Newark and landed at 12:40PM (6:40PM in Germany).  This meant we'd already been up for 12 hours straight and there was no end in sight.  By the time we got on our flight to Pittsburgh, it would be well past Brady's bedtime.  You'd never know it with the way he was climbing on the chairs in the airport.  You can see him above on the top of the chairs looking out the window at the planes.

 Enjoying some American snacks

The best part of the whole trip home was that when we got to baggage claim in Pittsburgh, Andy's Uncle Buks appeared out of nowhere and surprised us!  I was shocked and immediately ran and threw my arms around him.  By this point it was midnight in Germany and Brady was like a zombie.  He perked right up when my dad walked through the doors with a balloon for him.  My parents live five minutes from the airport, so by the time we got our bags, we were pretty much done traveling.  It was great to see my parents and my brother, Alex, along with his girlfriend, Lauren, came over for dinner.  We got some Chinese takeout and had a great time hanging out.

Brady took a while to get adjusted to the time change.  There were about two days when he got up at 3AM and then it changed to about 5AM after that.  Thankfully we are back around 7-8AM. 

Brady developed a fondness for popcorn in Germany, so he was grateful that Dubby stocked up on popcorn at Sam's Club.

Brady was a very lucky boy that Alex's dog, Kiro, was going to be staying with my parents for our first five days home, while Alex was at the beach.  They had a great time running and playing together.

 That look on his face means he's up to no good :)

It was definitely time for Brady to get a haircut.  He hadn't had one since before we left for Germany.

Brady had to go out every time that Kiro needed to go out.  They were inseparable.

Brady's face is a little blurry, but you can tell how happy he is.  Kiro was very protective of Brady and would get mad at us any time Brady was crying.  He would follow us upstairs anytime Brady went up for a nap.  We joked that Brady is in the wolf pack.  Kiro was also jealous of Brady.  You see them both up on Dubby.  Kiro would try to get up on Dubby any time Brady would.  It was the same with Andy and when Alex came home, it applied to him too.

Fourth of July was the first time we got to see my extended family since we arrived back home.  Andy left for Michigan a few days after we got home, so he wasn't able to make it for the middle of the week holiday.  We've missed quite a few Fourths because it's usually the week we go to the beach.  My cousins have been doing a parade for years and since we were home, Brady was in it too.

Waving the flag like a proud American!

Brady got to bang the pot too!

This wasn't Brady's first Fourth of July parade, however.  He got to do it for his first Fourth of July when he was only four months old. It's crazy to see how much he's changed in the last two years.

On a totally random note, Andy was watching Sixteen Candles one night by himself in Michigan (weird, I know), and he texted me some pictures.  I guess they filmed the dance in a high school in the suburbs of Chicago, near where there is a Bosch location (notice the Bosch box on the wall).  It's so crazy that I'd never heard of Bosch before Andy took the job and now we see it everywhere!