Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Five List

It has been over a year since I posted my Five list (five things I love and dislike about Germany) so I thought I would make a new one with a year more life under my belt and new things I have found to love and "hate".

LOVE:

1. Coffee. Germans love their coffee and although it can be VERY strong sometimes, I still love me a good cup of Joe.

2. Abendbrot. Germans usually eat a breakfast of breads, lunchmeats and cheeses. Then they eat a large, hot meal for lunch and then rolls with meat and cheese for dinner. We adopted this "evening meal" about once a week for quite awhile but do it much less frequently now. I still like warm rolls with butter and jelly and sandwiches for dinner every once in a while.

3. Downtown Dresden. I just love our city. It is so pretty especially from a couple of the bridges in town. I love to catch a glimpse of downtown whenever we drive over the bridge, it warms my heart and reminds me of how thankful I am that we are here. There is also a lot of shopping, touristy places and building and I feel like I live in the big city there.

4. Hazelnut cookies. I like nuts, but I am not particularly fond of hazelnuts, but they have a little sandwich cookie here that is delicious. Two hazelnut cookies with a creme filling. I don't generally like creme cookies either, but there is just something about these things, they are addictive.

5. The people. After getting to know some Germans better now and spending more time out and about, the people are friendly and helpful. None of our experiences have shown us otherwise but getting to know some of them better has been fun and a pleasure. I hope I get to know more, better soon.

Honorable mentions: tea varieties (they have stores with just hundreds of types of tea and everything that goes with it), mild summers, and awesome ice cream that one can eat at anytime in the day.

DISLIKES:

1. Parking. With a family of 6 we have a rather large car. It is a minivan, but even smaller than the ones in the states. The parking spaces here are designed for smaller cars and the spaces are very tight. I have to be very careful with opening doors so as to not bang the other car and trying to maneuver into a spot can be tricky. I also have to parallel park way too often for my taste. I can't see the front end of my van and I have difficulty judging distances. Did I mention you have to pay almost everywhere to park?

2. Condenser dryers. I hate having to empty out the water after every load and I have no place to dump it near by so I end up filling up buckets of it till my sweet husband empties them or I have to because they are all full. I really need a sink in the laundry room but there is no bathroom on that floor. It also takes about 2 hours to dry one load and they just don't smell as good as the clothes I air dry.

3. Winter darkness. In the heart of winter, it begins getting dark at 3:45 and is totally black by 4:15-4:30. The sun doesn't come up till after 8 either so it makes for a really short day and can get a little depressing. Thankfully, they leave the Christmas lights up for a while and it helps a little although most people don't hang lights here, mostly businesses and city property.

4. Short business hours. Besides grocery stores, most stores open about 10 and close at 6 or 8. A couple grocery stores open at 7 and stay open to 10 but this is a new development. Saturday, the hours are even shorter, closing at 2 or 4. Everything is closed on Sundays, except one designated pharmacy and a few bakeries are open till 11:00. It makes getting shopping done difficult at times.

5. Medicine. (or getting it). Many over the counter drugs (i.e. aspirin) aren't over the counter here. Some you can get by asking the pharmacist but for many, you have to have a prescription. I have brought a lot of medicines from the states because I had heard that it was sometimes difficult and expensive to get pain relievers, etc. So, this hasn't been too big of a problem, but I sometimes wish I could walk in and get just what I needed without having to ask the pharmacist or go to the doctor.

Honorable mentions: Staus (traffic jams that can last for hours), no after Christmas sales, and Christmas decorations are pretty pathetic and the same every year.

Coming up with some of these was difficult because I am used to life here now. After spending time this summer in Texas and New Mexico, I have come to appreciate some things more and miss others. I don't miss the HOT summers, huge cars, and the dependence on cars but I did appreciate the really soft breads, Chinese food, the many varieties of ice cream available at the stores and for more choices in fast food and reasonable priced clothing (or clothing in general).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

School Saga

"If I'd known we were moving to Germany, I would have stopped with 2 kids." This was something I caught myself saying the other day. I love all 4 of my children and wouldn't change that but life in Germany can be very challenging. I know that in the US many parents are struggling with balancing all the extra curricular activities their children have (this is the reason we always kept our kids to one activity), but here just everyday molehills become mountains and school stuff is all-consuming. Let me give a few examples of the last few weeks.

Jonah and Ashlyn's school technically begins at 7:30. Ashlyn goes to school at that time everyday. Jason leaves to take her at about 7:05. She could technically walk but with the weather so rainy and no money for public transportation and a heavy backpack, we usually drive the kids the mile to school. Jonah, on the other hand, begins at 7:30 on Mon., Tues., Thurs., and every other Friday. He goes in an hour late every Wed. and 2 hours late every other Friday. They both get out of school at 1:10 on Tuesday, but Ashlyn gets out at 2 on Monday, at 2:15 every other Wed. and Jonah is 2:15 three days a week and 1:10 on Mon. and Tues. Now, we don't always pick them up from school, usually just bad weather days (which is every other day, ha ha). So, you can see it is crazy here. This doesn't include Caedon's crazy schedule which looks like Jonah's.

Aside from the schedule, every kid comes home with papers to be signed (about 1 everyday from the 4 kids combined). Remembering to get them signed is the first hurdle, then remembering to take them back to school, well..... Then there are the crazy projects, like leaf collecting and identifying, plant collecting for a project next year (yes, they plan way in advance), not to mention entire school week long trips to the farm and Parent night at least twice a year for up to 2 or more hours.

Caedon and Jonah seem to be my little Jason's (i.e. scatterbrained, head in the clouds.) (No offense to Jason) Jonah will come home for the weekend and on Monday morning ask for 10-15 euros he needs for that day. We never have that much cash on us. Then Caedon came home and didn't say anything about needing something for the next day, but when I looked in his Homework planner Wednesday morning he had drawn a picture of something he needed to take that day. (He didn't write what he needed to take, he drew a picture of it!) I asked what it was. He didn't really know. UGH. Well, we went down into the office and searched through all the extra school supplies we had and didn't find anything. Ten minutes later, I finally pulled something out of the cabinet and said this will have to work till I can buy you one. He smiled and exclaimed "that's it!" UGH. It was a simple glorified brad used to keep papers together. Caedon said that the teacher says everyone probably has them at home. I guess I am becoming a good German then!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A while back, I blogged about some new, interesting yogurts on the market. Here are the pics from my kids trying them.






Popcorn here is generally sweet, like kettle corn, so the popcorn yogurt was pretty sweet. I didn't have any takers on the corn yogurt! They don't have creamed corn here so I think it wouldn't be too sweet. It did have corn kernels for that authentic taste!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Valentine's Day

I know valentines day was ages ago, but I have been really busy with planning our cluster's annual meeting, dealing with 2 sick kids, trying to get things together for our trip to the States in June and look for houses/apartments for the family that is moving here in May. But I wanted to share a quick picture of what Jason got me for Vday. We had been talking about these for a while and so it wasn't totally out of the blue, but a nice surprise. I enjoyed a cup (or two) the other day.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Jane Austin, Christian Encounters





A new series of books from Thomas Nelson, Christian Encounters introduces or familiarizes us to legendary figures of our past. From writers, important religious figures, to politicians and more, readers are given a concise history of those who can both influence and enlighten us. A biography of the writer Jane Austin is one of 5 in the first series released in 2010.

As a dearly loved and widely read author, Jane Austin's short life was greatly influenced by her faith. The child of a pastor in England, faith and religion were a large part of her large family. She began writing as a child and was a very prolific writer, if only in letters. She began most of her most famous books early in her life and tweeked them over many, many years. She became discouraged by continued rejection, but after finally being published, experienced great success.

If you want a concise biography, this book is suitable. I found it difficult to keep Jane's relationships straight, so many people are referenced. There is an appendix in the back that lists all of the people in her life, both friends and family. It follows her life chronologically although he does jump around some. It is a quick and easy read but may require some referring back to the appendix. I could have lived without some of the quotes, quotations and outside references, but for some, that might be appealing. All in all, if you want to learn more about a famous author with a closer look at how her faith influenced her life, then this is a good choice.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Early Senility

Here is a dose of humility, for me that is! I tend to share stories that are amusing and fun and this one is the same, I suppose, but not for me.
We traveled to Vienna the other day for work and also to visit friends. While we were there, I went into Hungary with the women to get a haircut and eat and go to Tesco (the British Walmart that Germany doesn't have.) As we were buying our things, I put in my PIN for my card and the sale didn't go thru. I am not sure why because I only speak a few words of Czech and no Hungarian! I put my PIN in again and there was still a hang-up. She calls over a manager. I start to worry that I had put the wrong PIN number in. I had no Hungarian money,and just a few Euros, so I was thinking I would have to borrow money, ugh. After about 5-6 minutes, the sale went through and I left with my things. The next day, we needed cash to eat out and Jason asked that I run down to the bank and get some out. After I put my card in, I panicked that I didn't know the right PIN and so I never put a number in. The machine said it would take my card, but fortunately, it gave it back. Now, I am thinking desperately, what is my number? I can think of mine and Jason's social security numbers, and even my address from Houston from 25 years ago, but my 4 digit PIN number that I use about 2-4 times a week, nothing! So, Jason gets out the money and I continue to think on my number. I suggest a number, it is just one from Jason's social, I suggest another number and it is too close to my social. I am getting really frustrated with myself.
We get back to Dresden and we go out to the store and I try to pay and... false PIN number. Jason comes to my rescue again! I give up!!!
I know that the bank doesn't have my number, and if I have to get a new number, that it will be very inconvenient and probably time consuming. This is getting ridiculous! I even remember my phone number from Sweetwater. Why can't I remember. I used to carry my PIN in my wallet (cleverly disguised!) but after a change in our American banking card, took it out, stupid!

Thankfully, I tend to keep everything I think is important and my PIN number was safely filed away and easily accessible after Jason reminded me to look! AHHH

So, my mind is going at just 35 and I fear by 50 I won't remember my name, let alone any important number, which seems to me the only way any company, business or the world can identify me. My wallet will be full of more numbers than money!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Shopping in Germany has never been an exciting thing to do. I used to love to shop (except for groceries) in the states to snatch up great bargains. I miss Target and even Walmart, because we have only one store like it and it is not convenient. (nothing is really convenient here, thus one of the hassles of shopping.)

I usually go grocery shopping with Jason to help speed the trip along and keep it from being entirely loathsome! I have discovered almost everything in the store now, but like any store, it continually gets new products. I stumbled on these at my grocery store the other day.




Just in case you don't know, this is yogurt. [The other two are coconut (not bad, just different) and christmas cookies (like shortbread), yummy] I am not sure who their target consumer is? but no matter, YUCK!