We’ve returned to the Fatherland after the grueling process of packing up and moving a household of a family of five. We drove six hours from San Diego to Las Vegas listening to Die Zaueberfloete non-stop. We saturated in ueber-Americana for three days on The Strip. We flew eleven hours from Vegas to Frankfurt. We we drove three hours from Frankfurt to the tiny dwelling called Haeusles outside of Mitwitz which is nestled in Frankenwald (the Forest of Franconia) for a few weeks of decompression.

It was a bit relentless to drive the long drive through the Mojave Desert from southern California to Las Vegas with our three small kids in tow, but when planning our departure, I knew that it was the only way to leave. As soon as we left our beloved house in San Diego, we needed to put our wheels in motion and set forward in our new old direction, back to Germany. We chose to drive and stay in Las Vegas because of the direct flight to Frankfurt. Several families in San Diego had recommended it because it was an inexpensive way to get to Germany (less than $450 per person one way), and a stay in Las Vegas could be pretty inexpensive. Once in Vegas, the recommended strategy is to wear the kids out at the pool and get on board the red eye so they can sleep through the flight. It seemed to work.

We were pretty sad to be leaving the good life we had in San Diego, especially the great friends we made in the short two years we were there. But the stay in Sin City kind of pushed us over the American edge. Vegas is extreme: really hot, really big, really glitzy. It’s all things that Germany is not. Take a look at that Bellagio fountain in the middle of the desert. Could you imagine such a monument of waste here? Or those giant castle replicas which make up the Excalibur? My kids and I had a discussion about real and fake when we pulled onto The Strip and they excitedly pointed to the castle or Ritterburg. I explained that they would once again be seeing REAL castles in Germany soon and the monstrosity next to New York New York was a fake, gross representation.

Directly upon arrival in FRA, we drove to our Ferienhaus (holiday rental house) in Frankenwald. While installing the car seats into our rental car, the Seat Alhambra in this case, my husband commented immediately how easy it was to install these car seats compared to the American ones, and that it was a treat to be able to buckle all three of them in one row. In the week that we arrived, we spent an afternoon in nearby Coburg, and our kids ran freely and happily through the Pedestrian Zone. I didn’t think twice of letting them run around and trying to keep them close as I would have had to in America. Later at our Bauernhof, my daughters ran back and forth from the little restaurant on the property to our little house which was around the corner – out of my sight. And I knew I didn’t have to feel anxious about not worrying about it.

In one of the many tearful good-byes during our last week in San Diego, a German friend of mine said reassuringly, almost enviously, that it would be easier to raise three kids in Germany. So far, at least on holiday, this is proving to be true.

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