We bought a car!

Progress. Some weeks it moves so slow and other weeks is zooms on past us. The last few weeks have been slow. So many people on vacation; so little moving forward and I have been very frustrated. Several of you reached out to me after my last post and I thank you for your support.

M is still looking for work. However, the good news is that people are coming back into the office after “silent August” and we hope to hear some news moving forward in the next couple of weeks. He has been working with a professional agency to help him revise his resume and he got new professional photos to go with them. Yup, you read that right. Resumes here need your picture on it.

Meanwhile we bought a car! This was a huge step in the right direction. But I had no idea what a hoopla it was to get a car in Germany. Let me explain. We looked a couple of weeks for the right car. M wanted one that was manual, diesel and had really good gas mileage. Gas is sold by the liter here, and if you figure (vague math) 3 liters to the gallon, then the 2.47 per liter becomes 7.41 a gallon. That’s all still in Euros not even taking exchange rates into account. Needless to say, it’s important to get awesome gas mileage.

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Anyway, we finally found one on Wednesday. It’s an 2007 Opel Zafira, its 7.7 liters per 100km. Not the best in gas but certainly not bad either. The best part is that it has a huge trunk room and it seats up to 7 people. We weren’t looking for a car that big, it was just a bonus. M negotiated a deal for new tires and we were set. Once we found the car and decided this was going to be ours then we needed to pay for it. So K and I ran down to the bank to pull out cash. After we paid for the car, we received a receipt and the title. But we couldn’t take the car with us. We had no insurance or license plate. Just got to go get insurance, right?

Ah ha! Not so fast there, buster. If you haven’t got a German drivers license, then you aren’t a “real” driver. The insurance companies here will put you on the highest pay rate (think just like a teenager’s rates) because we haven’t had a German license. We get a ½ a credit for having an American license. So here I think I’m going to beat the system. I found an American company that will give me a good insurance rate as an expat. So I spend all day Thursday filling out paperwork and getting the magic insurance code so we can get a license plate.

However. I send M down to the city to register and it turns out that he needs to be named on the insurance because the car is in his name. Ok, I call the company. He can’t be put on the American insurance as a co-signer because he’s the German. And I can’t be put on the title of the car yet because I haven’t finished my green card paperwork yet. (I’m not late yet, just still in progress.) Now it’s 5 pm and the offices are closing. American insurance canceled and still no car. Thursday was a loss.

After all of that mess, we end up getting German insurance on Friday morning. Not a terrible rate, I guess not all of them thing 40 year olds are beginner drivers. Once M had the insurance code, he took that and the car title to the city and registered our car. Here’s the cool part. He got to go out to a store and they printed him a license plate on the spot! He watched them stamp it and paint the new numbers. He paid for all the registration stickers and we were able to go and pick up our new car on Friday afternoon. Whew.

I celebrated on Saturday by making 2 trips out shopping AND a pedicure with my daughter. She is excited to have pretty toes to start the new school year on Wednesday!

 

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The longest summer ever…

What is harder? Running around and keeping busy with touristy things or staying home and doing nothing? Well, not nothing per say, but not as interesting as vacation either.

Last week we attempted a small routine. It’s not really a great one. Kids get to bed around 10, when the sun goes down. We stay up watching the late movies until 12-1 am. We were sleeping in the basement because it was the hottest week of the year. Seriously, Germany is breaking all sorts of weather records. Everyone takes a nap during the hot part of the day and we start playing finally after dinner. It’s been a long week. This week has been a bit better as the rain finally broke the hot streak. We’ve enjoyed the clouds and the rain. The Germans think we’re strange.

I’ve watched with a bit of envy this week as my friends and my daughter’s school starts a new school year. I know that I sold this summer to my daughter by telling her she’d get 12 weeks of summer vacation. Not realizing that’s 12 weeks of a lot of together time. We were ready for some separation from siblings this week, but we don’t start until August 29th.

I’m scrambling to find activities for the kids to do. I was able to find a young lady who could tutor Rowan with her German. Rowan’s got a lot of vocabulary and little sentences (Thank you Frau Cindy at German School Phoenix!), but not a lot of full sentences. I’m hoping a bit of extra practice with someone who is not her parent will help with the first couple weeks of school. It still only kills 1 hour, 3 times a week.

Meanwhile the kids are meeting friends in the neighborhood. Rowan tries hard and every day I hear new words and more small sentences. She understands a lot and that helps. Kasper has started asking why no one understands him. He is a lot more willing to try new German words in the past few weeks. I actually think he understands quite a bit, but doesn’t know how to respond.

Kasper is eligible to start kindergarten here. Kindergarten in Germany is = to Preschool in the USA. Kids here go to Kindergarten until they are 5, it’s a fun place to be, not really a school to learn. Then school starts in 1st grade when they are 6. The kindergartens around here are pretty full, but because we are new and he’s 3 ½, then he should get priority to get in somewhere. We’ve decided to hold off on pushing the issue until we settle into a home.

Markus is applying to jobs. It’s very slow going. We have most of our paperwork in order, enough to start a job. But it’s August, everyone is on vacation with their kids. So people who need to make the final decisions will be back … soon. The employment office is paying for someone to revise his resume. So Markus has been focused on that. We have about 3 recruiters helping us look as well. A plus in our corner is the fact we are willing to move to wherever the job is located. The reality is that it will probably be September before we start getting interviews.

Meanwhile, our stuff has arrived in Hamburg. We shipped 100 cubic feet (3 cubic meters). It’s not a lot, but our toys, fall /winter clothes, books and pictures. I paid for door to door service, meaning they packed everything up in Mesa, drove it to Los Angeles, shipped it to Hamburg and will drive it to my front door here. When I have a front door. Right now I’m having the shipping yard store our stuff for at least a month. If by the end of the month we haven’t figured out where we are going, I may need to have it sent to Tante H’s house so that we have access to our warmer clothes. Then when we do settle somewhere, we’ll have to move it over ourselves.

One step at a time. When Markus finds a job, everything else will click into place. I’m finding the waiting part hard. So much of this pressure is on Markus’s shoulders. Once he finds work, then I can find a place and fill it with beds (and a kitchen) and my days will get busy again