Closing a Chapter, Starting Another

It's been over a month since we left Madrid and it feels like much more time has passed since then.  In fact it already feels like our three years in Spain are distant memories.  I'm finally back here, ready to share our experience thus far.  We are still very much wrapped up in the process of moving.  Today it's my job to call and sign up for trash removal services (ahhhh country life), fax some paperwork to the electric company, and get a few issues with Verizon ironed out.  I do have a little time to try and catch up with news and photos while the kids loudly battle it out on Super Mario Brothers downstairs.

Our last week in Spain was bittersweet for me.  I've heard most families on the way out are so ready to end the stress that they're more than ecstatic to get the hell outta dodge... and I was in total agreement.  We repacked our room and and created a mountain of trash in the hotel for the poor cleaning ladies.  We never got around to getting medical records or canceling cell phones.  Time just ran out for us.  Josh got his end of tour award and I even got a little something for my participation in the FRG, which was a nice surprise for me :)  Thanks a lot, military family, that was awesome of you to think of me!

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Our last night in Madrid, Spain I was sitting on a bench at Retiro Park, watching the boys play, taking in my last moments of Spanish life.  I had my little cry as we lingered among the rollerbladers and dog-walkers.  Then in true Army wife style I swallowed the sadness and quickly switched gears to get ready for the big journey ahead.

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We woke up early to get everything loaded.  Some amazing friends showed up to help us out and get us to the airport (thanks Dave and Rudy!).  We had 13 suitcases and 2 carseats.  They hesitated at first to "approve" that many bags, which Josh and I did not react kindly to (we were stressed), but everything was quickly resolved and we were on the plane shortly thereafter.  The flight was long and uneventful, but I finally got the picture of Madrid's skyline I wanted!

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We left at 10am, flew for 9 hours, but arrived at 2pm in Maryland... our new home.  Managing the luggage carts was a daunting task, but Noah's tall enough and strong enough now to help out.  He pushed a full cart for us :)  We had help loading and unloading to get to the rental car.  Once we saw our bags all lined up, occupying 4 parking spaces, we realized we had a problem.  There was no way we were going to fit into a standard SUV.  Avis hooked us up with an extended cab truck for the day (no additional charge) so we could find a storage facility for the rest of our luggage.  We fit (barely)!

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The first stop we made was to meet our realtor Cathy... amazing person!  We had dinner together at Bob Evans across the street.  By that time everyone was starving and grumpy so it was an excellent idea indeed.  We were scheduled to see the house, but I wanted to just wait until no one was there and it was MINE.  So we canceled and gave that poor lady a break.  After all, we'd just moved and I know the last thing you need is strangers doing walk-throughs while you're trying to pack and move.  We went to our new neighborhood and the nearby Patuxent River instead to let the boys stretch their legs and avoid sleeping. 

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Traveling through time is rough.  We try to acclimate as soon as possible though.  Coming back isn't nearly as difficult as adjusting to Spain time!  We got around to finding a hotel.  We showed up at the base, but of course there wasn't any room... there never is, but we always go because if we don't get the statement of non-availability from them we won't get reimbursed.  They booked us a room at the nearby Comfort Inn.  It wasn't the cleanest place, but the staff was nice and it had beds... and that's all we really needed anyway.  We got the boys bathed and in bed by nine.  We were all glad that day was over.
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