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Come and gone…

15 Jul

Our first visitors in our “new” house (since moving in Janurary) just left today.  My parents were here for just over a week and it was fantastic.  Of course the time always goes too quickly and there is always more you wish you could have fit in- but, I am grateful for the time they were able to spend here.  I enjoyed every second of their visit and am so happy they had a chance to see our new surroundings and experience a bit of our life in Germany.  We spent time in Frankfurt and Heidelburg, shopped in a nearby town of Bad Homburg, rode bikes, and went to the zoo (among other things)!  Here are a few pictures (mostly taken by my mom) of their time here.  I wish I had time to write a more detailed account of the last week but this will have to do for now.  Life is good and having family here to share it with is even better!

Frankfurt Roemer Platz

Dom Cathedral in Frankfurt

Grandpa and Quinn in Frankfurt

Grandma and Quinn at the duck pond

Quinn loved the bike trailer we rented! And so did Kitty.

Opel Zoo

Is it just me, or does this giraffe look surprised?

Definite style points Quinn. I like the approach.

"I'm just 24 years old, leaning up against this fence. What? You don't think I'm getting back in that stroller do you?"

Heidelburg

Part of Schloss Heidelburg

Hotel Gummersbach is the hot place to stay this summer.  My sister is booked next and so we’re on to ready the house and prepare the suite, ha!

 

 

 

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Hessentag 2011…done.

26 Jun

I’m a little late with this recap, but I’ve been meaning to tell you about Hessentag.  So, the overall conclusion is: it was fine.  Fun while it lasted but nice to have things back to normal around here.  Driving was a complete pain- don’t even get me started on the obnoxious 20 minute detour I had to take to get to my house when I was all of 500 meters (yes, I’m all metric now) away.  So frustrating.  And I’ve realized that no matter where you go, you can’t escape bad Neil Diamond covers.  I mean EVERYONE wants to sing “Sweet Caroline”, and tone-deaf Germans are no exception.  But aside from a few inconveniences and a bit of additional noise at night, things weren’t too bad.  In fact, I think Quinn was rather happy to have so much to do right outside our door.

On the first Saturday that Hessentag was going on there was a huge party in one of the outdoor arenas that was set up for concerts.  It was called “Just White” and you’ll see why below.  Apparently it was “the best party ever!”.  We wouldn’t know.  But Joe and I did enjoy sitting on our front steps watching the swarms of enthusiastic party-goers pass by.  The couple pictures below were taken from our third floor window.

"Just White" party goers passing by our house.

"Hey, let's all wear white and head into a field for a big party!"

Quinn rode a little carousel for the first time.  Of course the very first time we put her on, we didn’t have our cameras.  She loved it and didn’t want off.  The next couple times, she seemed a little less sure about the whole deal.  Her friend Sophia however, was obsessed and threw a monster fit when she was finally pulled off the ride kicking and screaming.  I didn’t take a picture of that either, but is it terrible that I sort of wanted to capture Quinn maintaining composure while another child came totally un-glued?  I was so tempted.

Quinn and Sophia riding in the truck... Quinn is locking in on where Daddy is.

And now she is checking in with me...Sophia on the other hand doesn't care at all where her parents are, ha!

One of Quinn’s favorite parts of Hessentag was venturing to the area set up with animals for the kids to see.  The horses were a particular favorite.  Almost daily she went to the door “neighing” to let us know she wanted to go see the horses.  I wish I would have taken more (better) pictures because they were so beautiful.  And there were a few foals there too who were only 4 weeks old.  Precious.

Side note- it was so sunny, I could barely see at all. And yes, it was cold enough for sweaters in June! It was freezing actually. Not the best picture, but it shows some of our friends we visited every day for a week and a half!

We also made many trips to see the ducks:

Quinn watching the ducks..and yes her feet are in the fence and off the ground. She tried scaling the fence several times, but it was pretty wobbly and wouldn't really support her weight.

 

Quack, quack. Um the ducks here are different. I don't think you can really tell in this picture, but I've never seen these kind before.

"Why do we have to be separated by a fence? I hate boundaries."

Here are a few extra miscellaneous photos:

These carts stuffed with huge pretzels and breads are at all German festivals/ street parties. Personally I find them to be disappointing though- they never taste as good as they look. Do you think Dr. Atkins was German?

 

These however were not disappointing. With a light dusting of vanilla sugar, they were quite delicious!

People starting to get their spots for a parade.

 

Sassy pants thinks she's a big shot walking through the crowd of people.

We survived the set-up, tear-down, and 1.5 million people streaming through our little town.  I guess the highlights were: the food, the animals, and the people watching!  Now it’s back to our normal, quieter daily routines.

 

 

 

 

 

Eine kugel banane eis in der waffel.

26 May

Whew, I think I said that right.  Translation: A scoop of banana ice cream in the cone….loosely.  Anyway, here is Quinnifer enjoying a little treat at the mall today.

Eating ice cream AND people watching....she's a multitasker.

Maybe she wanted another flavor?? Mighty serious face for someone eating ICE CREAM.

"Drinking" the ice cream from the cone. Unfortunately you can't hear the slurps through the picture.

While we’re on the topic of ice cream I should mention it’s really popular here.  I mean, duh right?  Who doesn’t like ice cream?  But back home you don’t just pass by people eating cones everywhere you go.  Here you do.  All the time.  Seriously at 9 am there will be people at the eis cafe ordering a cone.  Quinn of course wants to embrace this aspect of the German way of life.  She’s so into having an authentic experience over here.

It gets me every time…

23 May

I’ve gotten used to lots of things over here.  And I don’t mean “Oh, feel sorry for me.  It’s been such an adjustment”…blah, blah, blah.  No, just literally, you adjust because you have to.  Life goes on.  You figure things out, you do things a new way, and pretty soon you forget how it used to be.  For example, grocery shopping is a completely different experience over here.  Shopping several times a week, taking my own bags, and usually just walking to and from the store has become the norm.  I barely remember the huge, weekly (sometimes less often) trips to the store, leaving with an overflowing shopping cart, only to come home and spend what seemed like ages putting it all away (in our 2 FULL size refrigerator/freezers).

But there are just some things I can’t get used to.  And this is one of them:

cluck, cluck

Finding feathers in my eggs just creeps me the creep out.  Ewwww.  Why?!  Never until I lived here did  Big Bird come home with me in my carton of eggs.  NEVER.  This is not the first (or second, or third) time that I’ve been able to trace the lineage of my breakfast just by the contents of the container it came in.  No, unfortunately, the incredible, edible egg often comes with a “full history” here, which I personally just don’t need.  I like in the back of my mind knowing “oh, yeah, eggs come from chickens”…not getting HIT IN YOUR FACE with “some chicken (whose feather lays here for proof) just laid this egg you’re about to eat”.

I know I am a bit squeamish about my food and it’s appearance and all…aaaaannd, I know that eggs do come directly from chickens.  And if I were on a farm collecting eggs, I’m sure there would be feathers.  BUT, since I go to the store and not the farm- is it too much to ask to get only the eggs?

What do you guys think?  Not that big of a deal?  Or super-duper gross?

Pieces and parts…a recap of sorts

20 Apr

I realize I’ve let a little time go since I blogged.  How and why could this happen!?  Haha-well, turns out life is getting pretty full around here.  So, I thought I’d give you a little rundown of what’s been going on.  This is a pretty random hodge-podge of what has happened as of late.

*This week I bought myself some flowers.  The yellow ranunculus and orange poppies just spoke to me and I had to take them home.  There are so many flower shops here so it is nearly impossible to go anywhere without passing one.  Having these little friends on my kitchen windowsill this week really brought me some added cheer: 

*Quinn’s latest words are “danke”, “nein” (the joys of a toddler being able to say no in TWO languages!), and “umbrella”.  Yes, umbrella.  The weather lately has been requiring an umbrella (at least be available) upon going outside and since keeping Quinn indoors is like keeping sand out of your swimsuit at the beach we spend a lot of time outdoors.  Being outside with an umbrella alone would probably not be enough to convince her to say the word (she’s stubborn like that), but being completely OBSESSED with how it opens and shuts and wanting to use it even when it’s NOT raining somehow pushed that word into the category of “necessary vocabulary”.  Not so she could politely observe its presence in the room with a sweet “brella”;  no- so she can scream “BRELLA” in the midst of a tantrum because we don’t want her playing with it and poking out her eye or pinching her fingers or just wanting help opening and closing it for 20 minutes, because yeah–that’s a fun game.  And yes, Joe has spent time outdoors with the umbrella up with not a drop in the sky.  I’m sure people think nothing of it.

*I discovered the best place to buy kid’s clothes here is H & M.  In general I find clothing and shoes to be more expensive here than in the States.  I’m sure there are places to go for the bargain hunter but I consider buying the right kind of milk and tracking down lightbulbs in the correct wattage to be successes (if not challenges), so I just have not graduated to the status of savvy shopper *yet*.  It is just as it is with so many things, you don’t realize how the simplest of tasks can be so much more difficult when you are a foreigner.  Without most of my mainstays such as Target, Gap, Carter’s and OshGosh, I’m left wondering where to go to get even just some basic onesies.  The weather is changing and Quinn is growing (again, she is so defiant), so it was time for a major wardrobe update.  I hit the mall and my first stop was H & M.  While shopping there for myself is about as fun as putting a fork in my eye, buying kids clothes there is the bomb.  Everything is very cute and very cheap.  Since these clothes aren’t going to see many seasons of wear, they aren’t exactly investment pieces.  I think I was able to pretty much get Quinn’s entire spring/summer wardrobe for under $150 euros.  Yay me!  This definitely goes into the success column.

*We continue taking German and um, how can I put this nicely–sucking.  Really it is a very difficult language, especially coming from an English speaking background.  Every noun has a gender and therefore you must know the gender of every thing you are talking about in order to get your sentence correct.  Let’s be honest here, I feel lucky to know that Zwiebel (oh yeah, ALL nouns are capatalized–cannot get used to that one) is onion, I have no clue whether onion is a boy, a girl, or neither.  There are also several “cases” in German so depending on whether your noun is the subject, direct object, indirect object etc. of the sentence you must adjust accordingly.  So in order to say “I went to the store for a loaf of bread”, I have to know whether bread is feminine, masculine, or neutral AND I have to quickly figure out what part of the sentence bread is before I can put my sentence together.  Do you know how hard that makes it to be able to speak a sentence period, much less without taking an eon to do it?  So, yeah when it comes to German I know lots of words and pretty much don’t have a clue how to put them together.  Very useful.

*Quinn continues to demonstrate her love of strangers.  I know lots of kids this age haven’t really developed “stranger danger” yet and welcome attention from people they don’t know.  It amazes me though how much Quinn goes out of her way to interact with people she has never met before.  In fact we are starting to be recognized by people we don’t know at all just because of their experience with Quinn.  Women she visits with at the bakery will pass us on the street and stop to talk–to Quinn.  Or a neighbor across the street will step out onto his balcony to wave to Quinn because he has seen her on our last few outings.  She will stop to wave to someone and seriously wait until she gets their attention, staring at them until they have no choice but to acknowledge her.  She will sit on benches next to complete strangers and put her arms up asking to be HELD by people she has never seen before.  There are so many of these exchanges I wish I had captured on film.  Here is just one little glimpse into Quinn’s apparently very extroverted personality:

"Hi, Ive never met you before but would you like to read my book?"

"Well, if there is no one to read with, I might as well sit here to finish this page-turner."

*I’ve joined a couple different playgroups and am starting to meet lots of other moms with kids Quinn’s age.  And actually, I’ve been lucky in that I have met a few people on my own just in our neighborhood who I have been hooking up with to have coffee and playdates as well.  Socially, it is a slow process when you start all over, especially in a different country.  So, it has been really nice to finally get aquainted with some other people and feel a bit “normal” again if you know what I mean.  Joe too has met a few people; in fact he gets along really well with the husband of one of my friends in town.  He even has played soccer a couple times with a group of guys and he is the only American!  Romanians vs. Germans…plus Joe 🙂

*We have added deer and scallops to the list of foods Quinn has tried and liked.  Now, I’m not judging those that eat deer (I know it’s common to eat), but let’s just say it’s not on our family’s menu…ever.  But, we were invited over to some friends’ house for dinner and the husband is a chef.  And he was serving deer.  Hmmm.  I wasn’t sure how I would manage, but in the interest of being polite I put on my big girl pants and dug in.  Actually it was delicious!  Quinn despite having some social skills that leave something to be desired, is not  a picky eater.  She is easy to please when it comes to food…put it in front of her is pretty much all you have to do.  So when the first course was served she dove in (literally) to the white asparagus and bacon-wrapped scallops.  She loved all of it.  The main dish was braised deer meat with red cabbage (big German side dish) and spaetzle.  Again, no complaints from Quinn.  In fact I could barely keep up with cutting up pieces for her to eat, and instead of waiting for me she took things into her own hands (again literally) and grabbed a fistful of cabbage and anything else she could reach to eat.  Our compliments to the chef!

Life here is going well.  It’s starting to feel more “normal” and we are enjoying meeting new people and trying new things (food, language, ways of living etc.)  But, we miss our family and friends back home very much!  We love hearing from all of you and knowing how you are doing in your lives too.  Happy spring everyone 🙂

My buddy and me

4 Apr

Today was gray.  And rainy.  And difficult to keep Quinn happy;  you know, we couldn’t take 45 walks to see the dogs and the birds and “talk” to strangers.  Injustice.

The weather lately has been mostly spring-like in all the good ways: warm(ish), sunny, and seemingly full of promise as blooms make their way out of hiding.  But in good ‘ole Mother Nature fashion the rain, chilly air, and cloudy skies reared their ugly heads making sure we knew the fight for nice weather wasn’t over yet.  And then a break.  Just after dinner the sun came out to play, pushing the clouds away and once again taking it’s reign in the sky.

I jumped on the chance to get Quinn outside for a bit.  She loves walking through town, laughing at other kids, barking (yes, sometimes it’s worrisome) at dogs, waving and blowing kisses at complete strangers, and just observing her surroundings.

My buddy and me

Here we are enjoying the spring evening.  I’m no photographer.  And this was only taken on my iphone.  But I love it.  My buddy and me, my little shadow.  The nice break in weather afforded me this sweet little moment, because like all moms, I know soon enough I will be “out” of the picture.  But for now…she is still my little girl, my little shadow.

 

We’re in kilograms and centimeters baby!

29 Mar

“How will I find a pediatrician?!?”  These were some of the first words I uttered after learning about our relocation to Germany.  At the time we first heard the news  Quinn was just a young infant.  The pediatrician is an instrumental character in your life at that point.  I think every (well, almost) new parent, even the non-worriers, takes comfort in the proximity and accessibility of a trusted pediatrician.  The same was true for me.  Quinn was a SUPER healthy baby.  I mean, I don’t want to jinx anything, but the girl has had like zero illness.  No ear infections, no major colds…really nothing.  But, still- knowing her doctor was just a phone call or quick drive away felt good.  The thing is, I’m not sure I knew how good it felt until it became a luxury I didn’t have.

Relocating and having to tackle finding a doctor was one of the challenges I was most concerned by.  It can be difficult enough in the States.  But throw in elements like a different language and a different health care system, and you have a much more intimidating task.  I wanted to wait until we were living in our “permanent” home so that I could choose a doctor that was fairly close.  Since moving in January the “doctor thing” has been hanging over my head.  Well, no more!

Last week we took Quinn to her first doctor’s appointment in Germany.  And it went very well.  I found an English-speaking doctor within walking distance from our house.  Quinn almost seemed to enjoy her doctor’s visit.  Is that a little weird?  The doctor was very friendly and Quinn didn’t seem to mind at all as she poked around to check her out.  Then it was time for what all parents dread…shots.  Not even a whimper.  I kid you not.  NO tears and really no acting bothered by it at all.  What a champ!

Oh, and for the record- she weighs 10.5 kg and is 78 cm tall.

Phew…glad to have that out of the way!

To market to market…

6 Mar

To buy a fat hog.  Just kidding.  NO hogs were purchased.  We did however take a lovely walk through town yesterday which included going to the local outdoor market.  On Saturdays there is a small market set up in town with lots of different produce and fresh meats and cheeses available.  There are also flowers, unique spices, and lots of baked goods as well.

The weather yesterday was cool but gorgeous.  Since everything is closed on Sundays it seems like EVERYONE is out on Saturdays doing their shopping for the weekend.  The town was buzzing with activity.  We took a stroll, stopping at the market (eating a few pastries) and just enjoying the sunshine.

A couple buildings alongside the market square.

Market Square

I love all the fresh produce.

spices galore

Tulips!

Here is some more of our walk through town:

There are so many cute little side streets.

The sky is almost the same color as the blue building!

Notice the large pretzel sign on the right.

Love the festive pendant banner!

The main pedestrian zone...bustling.

I love the street musicians. This accordion player is out about once a week!

 

 

Relaxing…

12 Feb

Can someone hand me the popcorn?

Who needs an easy boy?

 

And yes…that is a table lamp on our dining table.  We still don’t have a ceiling light.  Don’t judge.

Oberursel

10 Feb

I forgot to mention that the town we settled on for our time in Germany is Oberursel.  It is near Frankfurt, about 20 minutes from where we were staying prior.  I visited this town when my friend Kim was here back in September and loved it then.  I posted about it here.  In case any of you are interested here are a couple other sites about the town.

http://www.oberursel.de/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberursel_(Taunus)

We are not living in the old parts pictured above.  Our home is a more recent (late 80’s) rowhouse just outside of the historic neighborhood.  It’s a short walk to the center of town and all the shops though!