Valentine’s day started with a few comfortable clichés. We exchanged cards and chocolate, and I made heart-shaped pancakes with strawberries for breakfast.

My husband and I had originally planned to order take out to eat alone together after the boys had gone to bed that night, but when my sister-in-law generously offered to hang out with them so we could spend a little quality time together that afternoon, he suggested we take the opportunity to check something off our Texas Hill Country bucket list.

New Braunfels was my first thought (as he knew it would be).  We’d been talking about driving down to visit a cute little German restaurant and Biergarten there for months.

“How about lunch at The Friesenhaus?” I proposed, and just like that, I thought the whole thing was my idea. Little did I know, I’d fallen perfectly into my husband’s trap.

When we got to New Braunfels later that day, we wandered around a farmer’s market for a little while before we made our way to the restaurant. Charmed by the kitschy German décor and atmosphere, we sat down to order a beer for each of us, Currywurst for me, and Zigeuner Schnitzel for him.

Finally, my husband said I could tear into the oddly shaped presents he’d brought along with us.

They were numbered in the order I was supposed to open them, so I sifted through the pile to find number one.

“What do you think it is?” he challenged.

I held it to my ear and shook it, and what sounded like hundreds of tiny metal objects rattled against the packaging.

“Jewelry?  Beads?”

He raised his eyebrows. “Good guess.”

Quickly, I ripped off the paper to find a box of colorful push pins.


My wheels starting turning.

The next present was long and cylindrical.  My first thought was that it had to be art supplies of some sort. A roll of craft paper, maybe?

It turned out to be a huge map of the world, something we’d actually been talking about getting to hang on a wall in our bedroom so we could keep track of the places we’ve been and where we’d like to travel someday… with push-pins!

Aha! It all started to make sense (or so I thought).

The next present threw me for a loop. It was a little German phrase book I’d gotten to take with me on a trip to Europe in high school that had been sitting in boxes ever since.

OCONUS PCS, Germany, Military Life, Moving

Suddenly, my brain started fitting the pieces together, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

“Hurry! Open the last one!” he egged me on.

I opened the last tiny package to find a little slip of paper that had been trimmed from a larger piece.

Before my eyes could focus, I knew what it was.

A report date.

A unit name.

A location.

Germany.  GERMANY!

My husband had received word of his next assignment days before, and he’d been keeping it a secret so he could surprise me on Valentine’s Day.  It was such a crazy and wonderful way to find out, and I can’t believe he pulled it off!

In just a handful of months, we will be moving to Germany.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around that!

While excitement is definitely the prevailing emotion, I’ve been feeling an awful lot of anxiety, too.  It’s going to be very hard to be so far away from our family and friends, but I also know it’s going to be a wonderful opportunity and experience for all four of us.

There’s lots to be done in these next few weeks to prepare.

I will be documenting our transition and journey here on Courtney at Home.

Moving to Europe with two little ones in tow is sure to be an adventure!