One month ago today, five months after Tom left, the four kids and I landed at the Stuttgart airport.
For the first few days, I had high hopes of journaling about our new and exciting adventures every day and turning that into blog posts. After about a week and a half, I remembered that I am me, and no such ambitious or meaningful project would be forthcoming. So then, how do I summarize the last month?
We love it here.
First, let me say that for the most part, the kids and I have been housebound. It was another two weeks before our van arrived, so our only transportation was Tom’s small car, and he of course is at work most of the time. I also haven’t been able to take the class and test to get my license, so even with the van here we are limited. But is hasn’t been too bad. I am a homebody by nature anyway, and there has been a lot of cleaning and settling in to do. We will be here for a while so there is no rush to see and do everything right away. Our house is large inside and out, and though it is in an unusual “neighborhood” (a story for another time), we have plenty of options for taking walks, including a couple of stores where we can get bread and treats.
Speaking of which, I love our house! It felt like home right away (to me) and I already know it will be hard to leave it when the time comes. It has so much character. Lots of natural light. No carpet. A big kitchen by German standards. A pond. A sauna. Lots of nooks and crannies (and spiders). I plan to do more in-depth posting about it with lots of pictures, but here is one to tide you over…
The weather here has been uh-maz-ing. The high is normally in the 60s-70s F. There were only two days at the end of June that I would consider hot – approaching 90. I know you Arizonans have no sympathy for me, but keep in mind that we have no air conditioning and had no fans at the time, there was no breeze, and we have a skylight that lets in lots of direct sunlight, so the house got hot and stuffy. Other than that, it has been beautiful. We get some precipitation almost every day, ranging from light sprinkles to heavy downpours, often times with lightning.
Some things that have happened since we’ve been here:
*Tom surprised all the kids by getting them themed bedding: Dora for Vienna, Mario Kart Wii for Elijah, and Star Wars for the boys.
All I got was red and blue. We’ll just say it is a U of A theme.
These beds are loaners that we will give back when our household shipment arrives, which should be in a week. We also have schranks, or wardrobes, that we will keep since there are no closets. Other than that, our house is devoid of furniture.
*The second day here, Elijah found a piece of white-painted popcorn wall that had fallen off and asked if it was a tooth. It was a valid question – we have been losing a lot of teeth lately. We explained to him that it was not. That night as I was tucking him in, I saw the “tooth” under his pillow. The next day, he didn’t say anything about it. I looked under the pillow – no fake tooth. Finally, at bedtime, he was acting a little strange and didn’t want me to lift up his blanket. I heard a rustling sound and demanded to see what it was. Looking very guilty, he pulled out a small note that said, “This is not a real tooth! NICE TRY! –The Tooth Fairy.” He was very worried about getting in trouble with us for trying to trick the Tooth Fairy. I just hope she doesn’t skip over our house when he has a real tooth up for grabs!
*At the airport, Tom presented Vienna with two Zhu Zhu pets, a prince and princess. (She had a camo one back home.) You can see her holding one in the airport picture above. They roll around and make noise and keep her entertained. She has loved them – almost to death. The pink one is paralyzed now, and you know how they have a big sticker on the bottom that says to keep away from hair? It’s for a reason. She got a good chunk of her hair wrapped around the prince’s wheel, and as I was trying to free her from it, the chunk pulled away from her head, painlessly. Instead of being a lesson, she thought it was pretty funny. Do I count that as her first haircut?
*We joined the modern age and bought a 50” plasma TV. We weren’t able to bring our TVs with us, so we had to get something. We also needed something to play DVDs and watch Netflix, so we ordered an Xbox 360 with Kinect, which we did not tell the boys. More about that in a second….
*My baby boy became a teenager. How did that happen? Jonah’s birthday was on a Thursday, but we waited till Saturday to celebrate by going to see Cars 2 (not exactly his choice, but that is what was on) and then coming home for cake and presents. We bought a chocolate bundt cake, which Vienna had to decorate. Oh, yeah, and we didn’t have candles.
For presents, a Kindle gift card from the Petersons and an *awesome* shirt from me (because I am *awesome*).
Now for the fun part: Jonah had asked for a video game for his birthday. Real original. What he meant was a game for the Nintendo DS. What he got was this:
What’s this? It an Xbox 360 game. “But we don’t have an Xbox 360!” “Oh, Dad and I thought it said you could play it on the DS, too. We could have sworn we saw that on there somewhere.”
“But you can clearly see that it is for Xbox. This is the wrong kind of game. Do you people not understand?!?” (I’m paraphrasing, but you can see it on his face.) “Oh, in that case, we can take it back. Or give it to someone. Or… we could order a 360 and have it mailed to us, like we DID!”
Gotcha! Now he’s happy.
I have decided to end each blog post with some random observations. Some of these might seem obvious or common sense to you, but I thought they were interesting to note. Some things I remember learning in German class from high school and it is just interesting to me that they are actually true. And some are just to educate those uncultured swine out there who don’t know much about the world. (Haha, I am SO just kidding!) I welcome further questions or corrections if necessary since my experience is still limited…
- The Autobahn has speed limits (on parts).
- Germans drive on the right side of the road.
- Clocks run on 24-hour time, so 6:30pm is 18:30.
- Germans put the day first when writing dates, so today is 15.07.2011.
- Though it is much better than it used to be, shopping hours are very limited. No 24/7 shopping here. We are glad to be near a small grocery store that stays open until 8:00pm (I mean 20:00). And just hope you never need anything on a Sunday!
- Cashiers sit down while they are checking you out. (Not “checking you out” but checking you out - you know what I mean.)
- To use a shopping cart, you insert a Euro coin into a lock that connects your cart to the one behind it in line. When you return the cart, push the lock back in and your Euro pops out. Result: No stray shopping carts in the parking lot!
- Shoppers bring their own bags or baskets to the markets, or buy one there for a small fee. I have also seen people take a cartful of items to their trunk and just load it up, without bags at all. The mall stores bag items, but I still saw a lot of people with their own baskets.