Dave & I took a little roadtrip up to Ramstein this week. He had a second MRI for his back very early Friday morning, rather than try to drive at 4:00 a.m. (eeeeeeeeeeek!), we decided to stay in AirForce Lodging the night before. AirForce Lodging rocks! Completely affordable, nice, spacious rooms and American tv. Wooooooooohoooooooo!

Dave had a parachute accident 20+ years ago. Another paratrooper crossed under him, causing his chute to collapse and Dave plummeted 80-100 ft to the ground. He was helicoptered out, x-rayed, given “ranger candy” (big tablets of ibuprofen) and slapped good-to-go. Gotta love the military. Over the years his back has gotten slowly worse, with his neck causing the most pain. The last year has been especially rough and it’s time to fix him. We are both ready, and dare I say excited, for him to get his surgeries. There is nothing I want more than for him to have a day, days, weeks, months without pain.

We were blessed that our beloved neighbors took the bigger kids, it was just the two of us and Dane this time. Dane did a beautiful job on the roadtrip up, despite some stau’s during road construction. And he behaved beautifully during Dave’s appointment, and mine (a much delayed haircut). As a special treat for all three of us we went out to dinner at Chili’s! Ramstein has a Chili’s!

It’s been 2.5 years since we really had American food in an American restaurant, and it was a cultural experience. I had completely forgotten that in American restaurants refills are free. Imagine my surprise, and Dane’s total delight, when halfway through our appetizer we got another whole drink! Free. I love free, even if it’s a free coke. While Dane loves coke, it turns out he really loves ice. I had no idea how much 1) he loves ice; 2) what a peaceful meal a cup of ice gives me & Dave. Except for a couple of interruptions when he showed off his magically shrinking ice, or how clean ice cubes make his teeth (?) we were able to have dinner almost as if we were childless. Heaven.

Our waiter was attentive and asked us how our food was, did we want anything else, and brought us fresh drinks before the old ones were empty. The best part? When it came time to pay I didn’t have to stand on my chair and wave frantically to get his attention, he came right over, maybe he was psychic, and immediately produced our bill. I realize it sounds a little like he was hovering, but in reality he was incredibly kind, helpful and there only when we needed him. I’m going to stay with “psychic”.

This was, for us, a very welcome change to the more aloof, hands-off approach of our German waiters. Yet we also noticed that we had changed. While Dane ate ice cube, after ice cube, after ice cube, Dave and I slowly enjoyed our food and each others company. When the table next to us changed customers for the third time it dawned on us that our restaurant-going behavior had changed. Like our German neighbors & friends, we now take our time to truly savor our meal and our conversation. Meals out in Germany do tend to be two, even three hours long. I remember being frustrated with this when we first got here, and our children being squirmy. Now, this is one part of our new home I’ve truly grown to love & cherish.