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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.







So what’s been going on?

12 Nov

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately…not intentionally, mind you.  Just, somehow a week has passed and I realized I haven’t put anything down about what’s been going on.  Shame on me!  So, I think I’ll give a bullet points overview of what has been happening lately.  Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  • We had our cultural training-  We talked about the process of adjustment that is pretty much universal to all expatriates.  It was reassuring to see on paper that the phases we’re going through and feelings we have on any given day are pretty much normal.  We also talked about cultural differences between Germans and Americans particularly in the area of relationships, both work related and personal.  This was insightful.  We already were aware of the stereotype that Germans are more distant and hard to get to know.  But, it was interesting to see why and how they perceive becoming friends vs. how we see the process.   Overall what we learned was helpful and I think gave us good ideas about what to expect going forward as well.
  • More language lessons-  Ugh, German is so tough!  Our instructor is very friendly and comes to our house twice a week to teach us.  Poor fellow!  Hahaha.  Anyway, we are learning….slowly.  Here are a couple phrases that I think will be particularly helpful:

*Entschuldigung = excuse me

* Wie bitte= tell me again please, excuse me (not an exact translation but this is how it’s used)

  • We went to an international craft bazaar type thingy (exact name by the way)- This was on one of the bases about an hour or so away from us.  Someone that Joe works with invited us to go along with her family and we had a lot of fun.  There were vendors from all over Europe selling goods there ranging from antiques and other furniture to jewelry, food items, linens etc.
  • We actually got invited to a dinner party- Um, this was pretty exciting.  Someone that I met in the first couple weeks of being here invited us over along with two other couples.  The host and her husband are from South Africa and UK respectively (had been living in London) and are here for work.  The second couple was German and the third couple is from Mexico also here on an expatriate assignment.  It was quite an international night!  We had a lot of fun and it was so good to spend time with other people in our situation (with a bit more experience under their belts).  We got lots of good advice and were able to discuss things with people who understood first hand what we are going through.  Yay us!
  • In addition to all of this we’ve been managing, uh strike that…enjoying our little Quinn.  She is quite the little pistol these days.  She knows exactly what she wants pretty much at all times and really doesn’t settle for less.  Delightful.  All kidding aside, she really is delightful, but a handful nonetheless.  We enjoy her immensely but sometimes slip into bed the first chance we get after she goes to sleep…hence the neglected blog.

    Mom, you don't care if I pull everything out of here right? Right?? Right.

    Let's play a game. The rules are: I pull all of the shoes out of the closet and you put them all back. Sounds fun right?!

    Little slivers for eyes is how you know she's really having fun.

    Okay, Mom...I'm ready for more! What's next?

Who wants to try haxe?

24 Oct

Who out there knows what haxe is?

haxe mit sauerkraut

So Joe and I had been told about this dish during our very first week in Germany.  We were told it is delicious, a favorite item in these parts.  In fact someone told us it was their absolute favorite thing they’d eaten while living abroad.  Hmmm, that is a pretty big endorsement.  Makes you want to see what this haxe thing is all about right?  So, haxe is…..are you ready?  Knuckle.  Yes, seriously.  A big ole pork knuckle.

Today on another one of our weekend excursions we stopped for lunch at a really cute German brauhaus.  The place was very warm and inviting.  The menu was, go figure, all in German.  Thankfully our waitress spoke English (or at least enough to meet our needs) and recommended the haxe as the best item on their menu.  So, Joe decided to go hog wild.  Haha, bad joke I know.

Quinn is proud of her German roots!

Yes, even little Quinnie tried the haxe.  She is an adventurous little eater at this point and will eat ANYTHING.  She liked it, honestly.  I  even tasted it.  And I will admit, it was good.  Here is what I ordered though:


My dish was a much more tame roasted pork with red cabbage and dumplings.  It was delicious though.  Another wonderful and low calorie meal 😉 Who wants to join us for dinner??


Hallo, ich bin Rachael.

21 Oct

Our first German lesson was tonight.  And after two hours I learned how to say “I am Rachael”.  Promising, I know.  So yeah, this foreign language thing is hard!  I am dreaming about my high school Spanish class.  Even my college Spanish class with the Venezuelan professor who wouldn’t speak ANY English.  At all.  Ever.  Those would be a breeze compared to being in these German lessons.  I mean they have syllables we just aren’t capable of pronouncing.  Or at least, I am not capable of pronouncing.  At one point I was trying to pronounce “er”  which to me sounded like “air”.  My instructor and I went back and forth several times and basically I think he gave up.  Next time I should seriously video record the lesson.  I would probably benefit from being able to replay it and you all would have laughs for days.  Seriously, it’s that ridiculous.

Clearly, I need to study.  Help.

Dinner at Zum Rad

2 Oct

So I’m still catching up on all that took place while my friend Kim was visiting.  While at a meeting for an expatriate women’s club that I will be joining (yes, I drug Kim to that as well) I met a wonderful German woman named Moni.  She was so kind and as Kim and I explained our escapades in looking for things to do and getting to know the area she extended the invitation to dinner at a local apple winery.  I believe the term is Abbelwoikneipe but I was informed this isn’t really in the dictionary and is part of the Frankfurt dialect.   I could hardly believe how sweet Moni was to meet us out so we could have an authentic German dining experience.  We would never have found this place on our own!  Moni’s husband and son joined too and we had an absolutely wonderful evening.  This family could not have been any friendlier or more welcoming.  The restaurant/apple winery  was adorable and the food was delicious.  All around this was a great night!  Here are some pics from our evening out at Zum Rad:


Here is the whole clan: Moni's husband Helmut, Joe, their son Max, Kim, myself with Quinn, and Moni.



outside area at Zum Rad. Lots of families and kids running around!



Look at all those apples!!



This is their son Max with Quinn....this kid was such a delightful young man!!



Kim and Quinnie!



Ready to go home after a wonderful evening.


We are hoping to find our way back to Zum Rad and to meet up with Moni, Helmut, and Max again!!

Welcome to the neighborhood…

20 Sep

So I thought I should quickly share just a couple pics of where we are living.  This is just our temporary place until we find a permanent home in the next couple months.  And here is what the parking looks like on the side street by our place.  Thankfully we have a parking spot in back of the building!  I’m not sure this picture even does justice to how tight it is getting through….people park on the curbs everywhere.And here is our lovely street we call home 😉  Try saying this three times fast.  Heck, try saying it at all.

This also seems like a good time to share a few other things we have discovered about daily life over here (not all of which is bad by the way!)

  • You must buy your shopping bags when going to the grocery or drug store.  They are not provided.  You can bring your own or purchase ones from the store but you are expected to reuse them.  You also bag your own groceries.  People make frequent trips to the store and buy smaller amounts each time.
  • Everything gets recycled, and your trash is separated into 4 or 5 different bins (even in public places), such as paper, food waste, glass, metal, and other household items.
  • People dry their clothes outside even when it’s pretty cool.  It’s not uncommon at all to see an entire family’s laundry out on a balcony drying rack.  In fact we do not have dryer as of now, so I will be hanging some clothes to dry tonight!  I will be leaving mine indoors though as I think they will dry faster that way.

One other little random thing we’ve discovered is the “trinkhalle” pictured belowThese trinkhalles are definitely not something you see at home in Ohio!  They are little stands basically near most of the bus/train stops where you can get a snack and a drink.  There are usually just a couple tables outside where people stand to have their beer (or coffee etc.) and sausage.  This particular one is very near our apartment and the nearby train stop.