One Year Ago Today…

…Brandon and I arrived in Germany. We didn’t have a car, cell phones, or a house, but gradually we got everything figured out. Now Hohenfels feels like home. It’s amazing that a year has already passed. I wonder how quickly the next two years will fly by…

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Taxes are Taxing!

Last week was exhausting, and it was only a four-day week with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday! Maybe this going back to work plan was not such a great idea.

I had training in Vilseck this past Tuesday through Friday. It was quite the jolt into reality to have to be on the road between 0630 and 0730. (I have a new appreciation for people that have to commute an hour each way!) The first day I drove myself, but then carpooled the other days with the soldiers that will be working with me in the Tax Center. I was surprised to find out that I would have three soldiers, since I had been told I would be lucky to get two! Now I just have to figure out how helpful they will be…

The training itself was quite boring. The instructor was from the IRS. She simply read from the book and kept saying, “This is out of scope for our tax centers in the U.S., but I don’t know if you need to know it.” We were basically left on our own to figure out the software and reference materials. We have another three days of training this week, but that will be taught by a local lady who actually has experience working in overseas military tax centers. Hopefully, by the end of Wednesday, I will really know what I need to know to start seeing clients on 1 FEB.

While I’ve been in tax training, Brandon has been training Polish soldiers in an OMLT rotation. He had to work this weekend, but I enjoyed a quiet weekend aside from teaching a clarinet lesson and playing for Mass this morning.

So, that’s the news from Germany.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Visitors

Brandon and I had some visitors last weekend. My friend, Deb, and her son, Camden, braved the bad weather on Sunday to drive from Katterbach (about an hour to the west). The roads around Hohenfels were labeled “Red” and all church services were canceled, but that wasn’t enough to stop Deb! (Actually, she said the roads were fine until she got off the Autobahn at Parsberg.)

Deb and I are friends from Greensboro. We met at First Lutheran and sang in the Contemporary Choir together. Ironically, we didn’t become really close until I moved to Tennessee. When I made my trips back to Greensboro for work, I would stay at Deb’s house. She put up with my crazy EMF hours for two months during the 2007 summer and many shorter trips during the off-season! In November 2008, Deb married a soldier and they moved to Germany this past spring. Deb’s husband, Jay, deployed this past November.

It is really quite sad that we have lived so close, but this was the first opportunity we had to get together. However, I’m glad it finally worked out, and the weather didn’t ruin our plans. We enjoyed the time to catch up while Camden worked his way through the Wii games. When Brandon got home from work on Sunday night, he helped Camden with the Cabela’s hunting game he had brought. I showed them around Hohenfels on Monday, and Camden was thrilled to eat Anthony’s Pizza for lunch before they had to head back home.

I plan on visiting them in May to see their home and meet the new baby. The Army is such a small world, and it is wonderful to have a friend so close in a foreign country!

Update: Originally, I posted that Deb & Camden visited on President’s Day, which isn’t until FEB. Apparently, I am losing my mind while attending this tax training, or I am just really looking forward to our upcoming trip to Vienna over President’s Day. Either way, sorry for any confusion!

Kleine Hausfrau No More!

I am finally employed again!!! Thankfully, Brandon will now have to stop calling me Die Kleine Hausfrau!

When we first moved here, I was told that it could take a year to find a job at Hohenfels. Well, that prediction was pretty accurate. Today, 345 days after we arrived in Germany, was my first day as the Electronic Tax Filing Technician. Basically, I will run the Tax Center at Hohenfels and be responsible for preparing and filing income tax returns for soldiers, families, contractors, and retirees. Hopefully, there will also be two soldiers assigned to the Tax Center to help prepare simple tax returns and handle scheduling, but currently there is only one. We will be trained by the IRS through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program and equipped to address military specific tax issues. This training will be held at Vilseck (about 40 miles north of Hohenfels) the last two weeks in January. This first week on the job, I will just be organizing my office (which is pretty spacious, by the way!) and trying to figure out the details of what I’ll be doing. The Tax Center will have its grand opening on 1 FEB 2010.

I have to admit that my first day was pretty low key. The road conditions were terrible this morning (red), but USAG did not call a work delay. However, they did decide to close at 1pm for non-mission essential personnel. Since the others in the Legal Center were leaving, I went home also. I have a feeling this will be one of the only days that I will get to go home early, since it sounds like the Tax Center is a very popular place once it opens!

I am excited for this opportunity even though taxes are not always the most exciting topic. This will be great experience as I work towards my CPA license. I should learn pretty quickly if I enjoy preparing taxes and whether I will want to do this on a more permanent basis. There is definitely job security with tax preparation no matter where Brandon may get stationed. After all, the only certainties in life are death and taxes, right?

On a side note, I have officially been accepted into the Master of Accountancy program at Stetson University. I will begin the first online class on the 25th of this month.

2010 is sure off to an exciting start!!

Christmas in the Canary Islands – Day 7 & Return Home

December 31, 2009

Our last full day in the Canary Islands was another relaxing, lazy day. We slept in and enjoyed breakfast before getting on the computers to see how the Nebraska Huskers had fared in the Holiday Bowl. Brandon was quite pleased by the results! We tried to lay by the pool, but there was a persistent cloud that blocked the warmth of the sun, so we decided to go inside to eat lunch. The afternoon was spent in the hotel room and balcony. After all of the activity over the past few days, it was really nice to just enjoy the view of the ocean. I caught up on some blog posts while Brandon played his new PSP game, and we both managed to take a nap.

That evening, the hotel hosted another gala dinner buffet in honor of New Year’s Eve. We ate with the second group at 9pm. We were able to choose from the following: Selection of crudités, Pyramid of king prawns, Medallion of lobster with horseradish sauce, Paella with seafood, Roast suckling-pig Canary style, Chateubriand steak, Selection of cheese, Baked apple with dulce de leche, and a lot more! While we didn’t stuff ourselves as much as we did on Christmas day, this dinner was just as delicious.

We chose the late dinner time with the hope that would make it easier to stay up until midnight; unfortunately, that was still a difficult task for Brandon who doesn’t see the point of treating New Year’s Eve any differently than any other night of the year. I’ve always liked the idea of a fresh start and new opportunities. We went outside to look at the Blue Moon and then sat outside on the patio waiting for midnight. The hotel provided champagne, party hats, noisemakers, and grapes. It is a Spanish tradition to eat a grape with each bell strike at midnight for prosperity. This would have been a lot easier to do if there had actually been a clock to strike midnight (instead of the staff member banging a platter) and if the grapes had been seedless! As soon as it was midnight, we went up to the room. I guess we are getting old. Happy 2010!!

To see more pictures, visit my Picasa Web Album.

January 1, 2010

The next morning, we ate our last breakfast at the hotel and found a way to fit everything back into our suitcases. We took a taxi to the airport and then waited with the other Germans for the flight back to Nürnberg. Despite the recent terrorist attempt on Christmas Day, we didn’t notice any increased security measures at the airport; although, it would probably have been a different story if we had been traveling to the U.S. Aside from being delayed about an hour, the flight and drive back to Hohenfels was uneventful. Now our adventure in the Canary Islands is just a lovely memory as we adjust back to the realities of winter and everyday life.