Dream kitchen

14 May

Today we went furniture shopping.  Which, by the way is super fun with a toddler.  Seriously if you are ever low on excitement you should just take your kid (preferably around 19 months- you know, long on patience) to a ginormous furniture store.  The kind you need to be a cross country endurance athlete to make it through.  The kids LOVE it.  And so do the sales associates and other polite, self-controlled shoppers.  I promise you won’t leave wanting to jab your eye out with the blunt(er) end of a spoon.  Really.

Anyway, this post is about the kitchen…my dream kitchen.  I found it today.  I’m keeping the pictures I took so that when we move back to the States we can have this exact same thing put in whatever house we buy.  I think it’s perfect, and this way Joe and I won’t have to spend countless hours discussing the various tile options for the backsplash or  hashing out whose fault it is we went over budget.  From the start we’ll know the plan and we won’t stray- because this is perfection.

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No peeking too soon….

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Take one.

Take 2. Same kitchen.

Take 3. Still the same kitchen.

So, did you notice the standout feature?  Yes, the counter top edges change color!  Genius.  All the Jones’ will be trying to keep up with us.

Are you all jealous?  Don’t worry- we’ll have you over.

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What’s with the toilet obsession?

4 May

Um, Quinn seems to be quite fascinated with the toilet these days.  Which would be awesome- if it involved sitting on it and you know, actually using it for its intended purpose.  No, her interest lies in tossing in objects and then having me fetch them out.  Ewww.  Seriously Quinn?  In the last day alone, I have rescued a horse and polar bear (thankfully both plastic and easily sanitized) along with a less fortunate stuffed knight (who now must be tossed in the washing machine) from the ultimate swirlie.  I *foolishly* think she is playing contentedly for a few minutes while I prepare breakfast or clean up lunch, only to be beckoned for by what resembles Lassie calling for help.  Quinn runs into the kitchen and through a series of “barks” and twitches pointing in the direction of the bathroom, signals someone is in distress.  Poor horsey laying there helpless and on the verge of drowning.  Upon retrieving the most recent victim I told Quinn “No throwing things in the toilet.  That’s icky and we don’t put toys in the toilet.”–Instead of realizing she was being scolded and getting upset, she laughed.

I guess it’s time for one of these:

And some of these:

Good Friday

25 Apr

We have been very blessed to have wonderful neighbors all around us.  From the families living right next door, to the friendly people across the street, to the neighbors one building over, we have met lots of great people who we are getting to know better as time goes by.  On Good Friday some neighbors of ours with a daughter Quinn’s age invited us over for breakfast (and actually again for dinner) which made for a really nice day.  The weather was gorgeous and we were in great company.  In true Quinn fashion she had no trouble making herself at home:

Don't mind if I do...borrow your chair. And your hat.

I'm outta here, I've got shopping to do.

Now you may not have noticed but that’s actually two different blue hats above…neither belonging to Quinn.  Yup, she helps herself.

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 🙂

Best. Shoes. Ever.

7 Apr

I’m not really a pink person.  I don’t think I own one article of pink clothing.  It was never even a thought to incorporate pink into my wedding colors.  I don’t get all giddy over shades of rose and bubble-gum hues.  BUT these are the best shoes ever.  Period.

Brand spankin' new sparkly chuck taylors

My parents gave these to Quinn at Christmas and I’ve been waiting (patiently I might add) to put these on her since then.  I’ve pulled them out of her closet and admired them plenty of times.  I’ve placed the bottom of them next to shoes she wears, lining up the soles to see if they will likely fit.  They’ve always been too big so I set them back in the closet and groan about how cute they are and how I can’t wait to have her wear them.

Today was “see if the pink chucks fit” day…and yes!  Well, they might be a tad big, but I figure it’s just extra wiggle room for her pudgy toes.  And I could not resist any longer.  Because is there anything cuter than a sweet little tot in sparkly pink converse?  I think not.

"Can we get on with our walk please?"

* side note-  this picture would be so much better without the pacifier.  I know!  She rarely uses it during the day but this was pre- naptime which is always an interesting time and sometimes requires the “sass” as we affectionately call it.

 

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!

Dumb idea

10 Mar

I have mentioned before that closets don’t really exist here.  At least not the built in, don’t cut into the space of your room kind.  You pretty much have to buy a wardrobe or a schrank as they call it to house your clothes, shoes, and anything else you don’t want on display.  Most of the time people just move their “closets” with them when they change houses.  We were very lucky that this house actually came with closets in the bedrooms.  The previous owner had them built in instead of using temporary ones that would be moved when he left.  So we inherited the ones he had professionally installed…yay us.

This unfortunately did not apply to the entryway.  There is no hall closet!  We do have a little “nook” with a mounted rack to hang coats on.  Above it is a shelf that up until very recently is where all the scarves, hats, mittens etc were being tossed.  Of course being blessed with legs similar to those of a pot-bellied pig means I need a step stool to reach.  Actually I need more than a step stool.  I need a mini ladder.  The problem with this is two fold: a) I HATE having to drag out a flippin’ folding stool every time I need to reach something on the shelf.  Sort of makes getting out the door quickly…well, not so quick.  And b) it’s a mess up there.  Everything was literally being thrown up there, making finding a particular item sort of like a little scavenger hunt.  Several times a day.  So fun.

I decided that the most frequently used items should be stored in a more organized/accessible way  and we could keep less important things up on the shelf in the hard to reach area.  Determined to  finally get “one room, please just one room, can one room look normal?!” in order, I set out to find something to hold our cold weather necessities.  I found a perfect three-drawer wicker unit that would fit neatly underneath the coats.  Yes.  Mission accomplished.

Sort of.

Don't be mislead- This stool will NOT help me reach "the" shelf.

DUMB IDEA.

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!

 

 

Home…soon to be sweet home

1 Mar

Okay friends, many of you have been curious about our new place.  Due to our prolonged time without internet I found myself very behind on uploading photos.  I found some pictures I took right before moving in that I can share with you.  Nothing fancy, but at least you will get a sense for where we are.  We are so NOT organized here yet.  The rooms still need pictures hung and decorations put in place to make it feel really cozy and homey.  But, we have reached a point of basic functionality which is good for now.  It looks pretty boring in these photos (because the place is empty) but we are gradually transforming it into our little Gummersbach oasis!

Some things I love about the place:

  • So much natural light!  You won’t be able to tell in these pictures because it was already getting dark outside, but the sun just beams throughout the place.
  • Lovely wooden floors.
  • A finished guest suite in the basement….hint, hint visitors.
  • A garden- yes, it’s small and no, I don’t really “garden” persay…but I love having at least some outdoor space to use.
  • Steps away from the train and a very quick walk from all the daily necessities and shops.

Some things about the place that I am still getting used to:

  • Microscopic cozy kitchen.
  • Stairs everywhere.  I personally don’t mind going up and down, but with Quinn here the place has practically been transformed into our own mini Alcatraz.
  • Overall less space.  This is fine but it creates a challenge when arranging the furniture we already owned.

Conclusion- We like it here and are happy with our choice!

part of the entry way...the kitchen is on the right

living and dining space

When the dishwasher and oven are both open they greet each other.

Wintergarten as it's called here; looks rather dreary but it's actually quite lovely.

Every parent of an adventurous toddler's nightmare.

part of guest bedroom

one of the two second floor bedrooms

third floor loft/studio space

more loft

So, let me ask- how long did it take YOU to really be settled into your last place?  I go back and forth between feeling really impatient to have the place fixed up and “perfect” (which will never happen) and having a more realistic attitude about it all.  Isn’t there a version of Mary Poppins for this sort of thing, you know a song that could magically put my house together?!