Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Way Back When (European Edition)

I've given this post quite a bit of thought since last night, and I'm going to try my best to keep it as on-track as possible. One of the questions that was frequently asked of me (especially as a military spouse) was "why did you wait so long to have kids?" Now, keep in mind, I was 28 when I got pregnant with Tony, and 29 when I had him. Not "too old" by any stretch of the imagination, but when most of your fellow military wives have children in their early to middle twenties, you're bound to raise some eyebrows when you say that you're going to wait to start a family. Now, NOT having children was never an option for Will and I. We both felt that our lives would feel empty if we didn't have kids, and we've discussed the possibility of having a larger than average family. Not Duggar style, but four-ish kids. Ask me again how I feel about that after I give birth to our second babeh. However, during our time in Europe Will and I were adamant that we hold off on trying to conceive, at least until we knew we were headed back to the States. Why? Because we were freaking living in Europe! We wanted to travel as much as possible, and we also wanted to take advantage of our 20's; that rare time in your life when you're still young enough to make stupid decisions and mistakes, but mature enough to learn from them and (hopefully) never repeat them. Another reason we held of on the kiddos was due to Will's constant deployments. We arrived in Germany of July of 2005, and we were lucky; his first deployment during our married life didn't happen until October 2006. Unfortunately, from there on out it was a series of Army schools, late hours at work, presidential missions (as a K-9 handler, Will and the other soldiers in the kennels were frequently tasked out with their bomb/drug dogs to places such as France, Turkey, Ghana, Lithuania, Montenegro, etc to perform safety procedures for the major high-ups). Not to mention two more deployments before we were eventually sent back to the States. I always worked full-time as well, first as an education counselor at the base in Hanau and then at a bank in Ramstein. So for the majority of our time in Europe, much of our time was spent like this:
(painting our godawful family housing unit in Hanau) or this:
(preparing for our move to Kaiserslautern) or this:
(yet another deployment) So yeah. We were crazy busy for about 75% of our time in Germany. But that glorious, glorious 25%? We rocked it. Eurail trips, cruises, spur-of-the-moment long weekends in Vienna, Amsterdam, Poland, a spa weekend with Mom in Baden-Baden, Germany, a weeklong getaway to the Canary Islands with my friend Rachel, and a 5-day trip to Malaga, Spain with my friend Chrissy. We spent more money than I care to think about. We had a few (okay, more than a few) nights at the pubs or cocktail lounges where we were the first ones to show up and the last ones to leave. We ate at expensive restaurants, and I became fluent in the art of "pulling a few key phrases in multiple languages out of my ass" whenever we traveled to a different country. I realized the importance of pronouncing words correctly when I asked the waiter at a restaurant in Spain for "the whore" instead of "the bill." We cried at Auschwitz. We attended daily mass at the Vatican. Listened to an Irish band at a pub in Doolin in County Clare. Drank too much at Oktoberfest and then went on the insane rides (I'm pretty sure we're still recovering from that experience, even though it happened in 2006). Got separated from our tour group in St. Petersburg. In the subway. During rush hour. (Yes, we eventually caught up to them). Went to the Louvre in Paris. In short? We had one HELL of a time. Even though Will and I weren't able to spend as much time together as we would have liked during those five years, the times we did spend together were nothing short of amazing.
(kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland)
(Stonehenge!!)
(the Alcazar in Seville, Spain)
(and, of course, Will's "evil Big Rab" birthday cake with our friends in Garmisch!) Also, please don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm certainly not saying you can't travel with young children. We have quite a few friends who not only do it, but do it well. (Maureen, remind me sometime to ask you how you've mastered the art of making it through security with your kids and baby gear, plus surviving the plane rides). What I AM saying, is that during that part of our life adding children to the mix would have been difficult. It's not impossible to travel with children, but I think our two-week Eurail vacation wouldn't have been the most pleasant experience, either. I'm also fairly certain that some of the tour groups on our cruises would not have appreciated the antics of a fussy, tired toddler. And those spur of the moment weekend trips? Most of them would have never happened. Will and I absolutely plan on traveling with our children one day; we're even hoping that his next assignment in the Army will be on an overseas base again. What I AM saying is that we will vacation very, very differently than we did in the past. It's not a bad thing at all, but it will be very different. I am so thankful for the life we have now, and even on the days when Tony screams bloody murder for no reason at all, or the laundry piles up and I ignore it as long as possible, or the pregnancy backaches and nausea send me into hormonal overdrive, I am grateful. Grateful that I had those experiences in Europe with my wonderful husband, and grateful that we have a healthy, beautiful family together. Although I have to admit...a part of my heart will always belong to Italy. :) Viva Firenze!!!!

2 comments:

  1. LOVED IT!!! Yay for trips down memory lane!! My time in Germany wouldn't have been nearly as amazing (though it would have still been amazing) if it hadn't been for you!! I will always be thankful that fate and the military brought you into my life!! Love you friend!!

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  2. As am I. :) Whenever I'm having a rough day, I think about our awesome trip to Malaga (and how we shocked that poor waiter at the restaurant..."you want ANOTHER pitcher?" I will never forget the look on his face!). Love you too!!

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