Driving in Germany – my interpretation

This week I’m going to pick up my new German drivers license.  I flat out admit, I was lucky when applying for my license.  Arizona has an agreement with Germany that I can simply apply and obtain my German license without a 1st aid test, proof of an eye exam, driving school and I didn’t even need to take the driving test here.  Not every state has this agreement with Germany and getting a license here can get pretty expensive – up to 2000 Euros for the school (which also helps with the pile of paperwork that you need to get through).

German’s love licenses (any paperwork really is considered a national pastime).  In 2nd grade, R will get her scooter license.  In 3rd grade, they get a swimming license and in 4th grade they take the all important bicycle license.  By 16, you are allowed to buy beer and wine (no hard liqueur until your 21 and they are really starting to card for this now).  Then after you’ve learned how to hold your beer, you can learn how to drive at 18.

Most American’s get excited about driving in Germany.  The 1st comment is always – You can drive 150 miles per hour on the all amazing Autobahn!  Yes and No. Autobahn means Highway in German.  And yes, there are sections that do not have a speed limit.  But cars here drive in kilometers and not in miles.  So when your odometer reads 150 km, your looking at about 93 mph.  If I’m being honest, I’ve probably hit that speed on I17 (but not near Camp Verde where the cops sit though, lol).

Driving in Germany is nothing like at home.  I often imagine it like one of those very structured dances, where every step is choreographed.  It can go fast, but everyone still knows their steps.

Here are some of the differences I’ve noticed while driving here:

  • There is no turn on a red light.  You can turn only if there is a green arrow, otherwise wait.
  • Germans practice right of way.  When two public roads cross at an uncontrolled intersection, then right-of-way is always given to traffic approaching from the right. This includes “T” intersections! In the US, traffic on the through street of a “T” has the right-of-way, but in Germany, you must yield to the right, even if you are on the through road.
  • Never pass on the right.  The right side of the road is for driving, the left side is for passing only.  Once you are done passing, get back to the right lane.  This is not considered swerving.  If someone is driving slow in the left lane, it is (apparently) considered appropriate to sit on their bumper until they move over.
  • If the lanes go from 2 down to 1 lane, a zipper is put into effect.  Everyone drives up to where the lane goes down, and they take turns going forward.  It’s all very polite, and surprisingly much faster to get through.
  • When stopping at a red light, stop way far back.  There are almost always pedestrians in the walkway, so you really can’t stop there.  Plus, the stop light is place in such a way that if you don’t stop farther back, you won’t see it turn green.  It really is a simple way to keep cars from stopping in the pedestrian zone, or creeping forward into the intersection.
  • When in doubt, put on your blinker.  The road turns naturally to the left?  Blink.  You’re driving out of a round-a-bout? Blink?  You’re sitting in the left turn only lane?  Blink.  Moving lanes?  Blink.  Claiming a parking spot!? Blink.
  • And last but not least – Parking is a huge problem here.  Always add 10-20 minutes to your travel time to find a parking spot.  Keep 2-5 euros in your pocket to pay for said parking.  Plan to walk anyway.

These are just of the few differences that I pay attention to when I drive around here.  This is in addition to the different road signs Germany has.  If you are interested, I found a good website that explains the rules of the road more in depth.  http://www.gettingaroundgermany.info/regeln.shtml

 

Trash of a multi-step sort

I have never really thought about my trash before.  Oh, I recycled.  I was always proud how full our recycle bins were and thought I was doing a good job.  But it doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of recycling we do here.

Germany is determined to lead the world in recycling.  It certainly feels like it as I sort more trash then I knew I made.  My main trash can gets picked up only 1x a month.  And it is about the size of my old kitchen trash can – the one I use to fill up in 2 days.  It’s called the Restmull, the rest of the trash.  It’s all the stuff that can’t be recycled like diapers or Kleenexes.  To make sure you’re not tempted to throw away just anything into this trash can, it’s weighed and you are charged by the weight.  At the end of the year, you get a bill on how much trash you threw away.  We pay a monthly fee included in our rent and then at the end of the year it’ll be reconciled.  Right now I have a 45 liter trash can in my kitchen and I empty the bag out about once a week (or if it stinks).

Then you have the yellow recycle cans.  This is for all of the containers and plastic materials.  Milk is sold in 1 liter cartons (similar to the almond milk boxes at home) that are completely recyclable.  Yogurt cups, bread bags, candy wrappers and all packaging material goes into this recycle bin.  This is picked up 2x a month.  My trash can in the kitchen is also 45 liters and gets filled up more often.  I take that bag down about 2x a week.  Our house shares 4 large trash cans outside for the container recycles.  And by large, I mean probably the smallest one in Arizona.

Next we have paper material.  Kleenix boxes, toilet paper rolls, newspapers and cardboard all go into the paper recycling.  I keep a large grocery bag with all the paper.  Because paper is always dry, the plastic grocery bag works perfectly.  It’s the kind that you buy with nice rope handles. Our house also shares 4 large paper recycling cans outside.

Raw food scraps are also sent out for compost.  We have a small trash can that sits on my counter for coffee grounds, banana skins and eggshells.  Our house shares 1 biotonne – for scraps and yard waste.  This one feels easy as I’ve done my own composting for almost 10 years.  Here the city does it for us.

Glass is also recycled separately.  I keep a basket in the front closet for jelly jars, wine bottles and hot dog jars.  Glass is not picked up by the city.  This isn’t something we have a lot of, so about every other week I take the car and drive the glass with me to the recycling bins (because it’s heavy and I don’t want to carry it).  Ours are located across the street from the grocery store.  We separate it there into bins for brown, green and white glass.

Plastic bottles are also recycled separately but most of them have Pfand – a deposit price.  So juice, soda, sparkling water all come in these plastic bottles and I can get money back for them.  So those I sort into my grocery cart.  Since I usually walk to the grocery store, I have a cart on wheels to help be bring the groceries back.  So I just stick all the plastic bottles into the cart so that I take them with me to the grocery store.  At each store, they have a recycling machine near the doors (all the stores have these machines).  I get .10- .15 cents on each bottle depending on size.  But a basket full of bottles can net me around 3 euros.  Then the machine prints me out a little slip and I get that money back for my groceries.

Old clothes shouldn’t be thrown away either.  There are a lot of trodel markets (think community garage sales) for children’s clothes that can be used some more.  I also have about 3 apps on my phone where I can buy and sell second hand clothes for kids.  But if the clothes are holey or ripped, the community has a big bin where you can have the material recycled.

I certainly think a lot more about trash then i use to.  The kids have learned to always ask which trash can to put thing in so they are recycling properly too.  I enjoy these teachable moments with the kids, because I know I’m teaching them how to save the world with one recycle at a time.

 

Oh the things we miss…

I have a confession.  When we arrived in Germany we were pretty excited to try everything out.  Chocolate, bread and rolls every morning, quark, Donners, currywurst and more chocolate…  The kids have done an amazing job trying new foods and taking at least 1 bite of everything.  They fast discovered we love Donners, Pizza with salami is almost as good as sausage and pepperoni and coffee with kuchen is the favorite meal of any day.

That said, we have now been in Germany for 8 months and we are missing a few things.  Some things I can make something similar at home.  Some things I can’t figure out why they don’t already exist here?!?

In the land of coffee….  why is there no creamer?!  For a group of people that have centered an entire 4th meal of the day around another cup of coffee, why can’t I find any flavored creamer here?  I finally did some homework and learned that Milk Mädchen is pre-sweetened.  1 can of condensed milk, 1 3/4 cup regular milk, 2 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Viola.  Flavored, sweetened creamer for me!

And what is wrong with a bottle of Vanilla?  Doesn’t exist here.  You get vanilla sugar, or tiny little 5oz bottles of vanilla essence (don’t try that, it’s yucky), or you buy the slightly more expensive 5 oz bottle of liquored up vanilla bourbon (much better in a cookie by the way, but 5 oz does not go a long way).  The lovely huge bottle you see above was brought by my awesome parents from some Mexican flea market.

In the land of pork… why is there no sausage?  Now, if you go to the store and ask for sausage they will gladly point you to 15 varieties of brats and wurst.  And although they are good, it’s not the same as ground sausage or a good morning breakfast sausage.  So I looked it up (google is my friend) and discovered breakfast sausage is more of an Italian thing.  So, either I find an Italian butcher (which there are a few in Düsseldorf, just not that near me) or I learn to spice up my own.  So yesterday, I found a recipe and spiced up 3 lbs of ground pork to make my own sausage.  Did you know that fennel is the key ingredient in an Italian sausage?  Anyway, it turned out really good.  Not as fatty as sausage at home, probably was a higher quality ground pork but I can add some extra fat next time.  I used up a whole pound making Scottish eggs. YUM!

I am a big fan of spices.  I love mixing up my own and making my own blends.  I have made my own taco seasoning for years.  It’s super yummy.  I have a small obsession (or a large one, depending who you ask) with Mrs. Dash.  Thankfully Google has provided me several recipes to make my own… once my stash runs out.  I also have an awesome BBQ rub recipe I really like on my ribs or even on chicken.

Peanut butter is also a fun topic.  Think about how much we eat in America.  PB&J sandwiches are pretty much a staple.  Serving up apples or bananas?  Slap some peanut butter on it!  Serve it with ice cream or with your chocolate.  American’s have a love affair with Peanut butter.  I admit we used to go through 2 Costco jars every 4-6 weeks.  The dog helped.  Germans?  Not so much.  At least I can find peanut butter here… in tiny little jars.  My kids still are living on PB&J, just not at the same frequency.  And their idea of peanut butter cups?  Leaves a bit to be desired.  Thankfully, that is also easy to make.

All I need is a bit of brown sugar…  no not raw sugar.  Yes.  I know raw sugar is brown.  Proper brown sugar has molasses.  Molasses?  Its uh…  from sugarcane.  Molasses can be found on Amazon.  Proper brown sugar is not easy to make at home.  3 attempts later and I thankfully found a bag of brown sugar at a specialty Edeka grocery store.  I bought 4 bags and now I need to find more…. Probably on Amazon.  But raw sugar does not leave your cookies so nice and soft.  Soft cookies are an American thing.  Here cookies are crispy or flaky.  I have definitely found the thing to bring to any party – American cookies.

Then there are things we just can’t get here.  Mom and Dad brought us a huge box of goldfish which was promptly and happily eaten in 3 weeks (I helped, I love goldfish).  Ranch dressing is another.  A big thanks to Frau Cindy for sending us Ranch packets to make our own!

I guess creativity is the key here.  And family and friends who take pity on us and send us loves from home.  In return for chocolate.  Because… Kinderschokolade.

We have our own home!

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about our move here.  I’ll freely admit that this last few months were hard. We struggled with finding work and a place to live.  We were unbelievably grateful for an amazing Aunt who let us stay with her until we truly landed.  But there were more then a few depressing days as it felt like nothing would click into place for us.

M was pushing out multiple resumes a week, went on a minimum of 6 interviews before he finally landed a job with the City of Duisburg.  Duisburg is located just north of Düsseldorf and is built around multiple harbors on the Rhine river.  M started middle of November working for the city upgrading and repairing the traffic lights for the city.  It’s a close knit office and he’s enjoying the work.  He said it’s very similar to the work he did at his last job working with cellphone towers.  Which means that the learning curve is more about learning technical words and Germany’s codes.

We looked 6 months for an apartment in Baumberg.  We loved the city and had already made progress in making friends in the school and community.  However, real-estate there was slim to none.  Coming from the states, I seriously couldn’t understand how NOTHING could be available.  But I do need to clarify.  If we were willing to live in a 2 bedroom 800 square foot apartment on the 5th floor, then we could find several overpriced options.  We finally made an offer on an apartment that was at least 1200 sf, but 2 bedrooms.  They accepted another couple – probably someone without 2 kids and would fit /stay longer in the apartment.

The day we were rejected, we decided to expand our search outside of Baumberg and actually found the perfect place in Kapellen-Moers.  Kapellen is a small suburb of the larger city of Moers.  It is on the west side of the Rhine (previously we were on the east side), and Kapellen has 4 Kindergartens (pre-schools) and the grade school is large and expanding.  The last renters here found a new place fully furnished and was willing to sell us most of their furniture!  We purchased their couch, kitchen table with 3 chairs and a bench seat, the entire master bedroom set with closets and we bought the whole kitchen. We have 1300 sf in our apartment, 3 bedrooms, 1 bath room (read that as bath and shower only, no toilet) and 1 toilet room.  Yup, we are down to 1 toilet.  So far so good.  The apartment also comes with a huge backyard that is shared use, a maintenance guy that mows the lawn and rakes the leaves, a laundry room downstairs, a drying room for items you want to hang, or if you don’t have a dryer (a common occurrence, I however insisted on a dryer!).  Plus we have our own basement storage room (with a lock) and a separate room in the basement just to store our bikes.

 

Now, you are asking yourself why did we buy a kitchen?  Why am I so excited about closets?  When you rent in Germany, you get the walls and floor.  That is it.  You buy or bring all of your own lights (overhead too), clothing closets and even the entire kitchen -not just fridge and stove but cabinets and sink too.  Because its not part of the apartment.  Closets are not built in and if you don’t like the kitchen, or the faucet breaks, well that’s your problem.  You own it.  There are parts of that idea I like.  If the drawers don’t work, I can now replace them to my taste!  But the downfall to this plan is that when you move, it can take you a week or more just to install the kitchen.  Ordering a new one?  Up to a month for installation.  But it is quite easy to buy a 2nd hand kitchen; provided you can make it fit into your new space.

We closed on the apartment in the beginning of December.  We rented an extra car (we only have 1), and M was able to drive to work while I was able to move our 14 boxes and clothes over in a week.  And because it was December, I also ordered a ton on Amazon and had it wrapped and ready under our first real Christmas tree in our new home.

The tree was an awesome bonus.  We bought it at the tree lot across from Aldi.  Less then a block from our house, M put it on his shoulder and walked it home.  We had shipped our decorations from home and were happy to dive into boxes of familiar items.  We had plenty of toys we hadn’t seen in months and the kids played happily throughout the Christmas break.

As an wonderful surprise, my parents were able to come and visit us right away in January!  We took them to Amsterdam for a long weekend (its only a 2 hour drive from here) and I also got to see a dear friend and her children over the visit.  We enjoyed having my parents here and showing them around.  They helped us with an Ikea run and the kids were over the moon excited to play with Opa and Oma every day.

R has now started a new school.  We are about a 45 min drive from our old town and the new school is a block from our new place.  This move has been toughest on her.  She loves the space here and her own room again, but starting over again finding new friends again has been hard.  We hope the transition gets easier for her, but also know that it’ll take time.

K had found a place in a Kindergarten in Baumberg.  He enjoyed the socialization and his language really excelled quickly while he was there.  I was able to secure a spot in a Kindergarten here too.  It’s for only 25 hours a week, from 7:30-12:30.  I had wished for more time, but this will help continue his language grow and I will get a few hours in the morning to walk to the grocery store.  Right now, he throws a few German words around with me, but mostly I don’t hear how much German he knows until he’s playing with other kids.  Then I’m blown away with his skills.

A job, an apartment and schools – we can start putting down roots, meeting friends and making a home.  Door is open, you’re welcome to visit!

 

Welcome Assistant Director Katharina Blohm

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Katharina Blohm, Assistant Director

Please join Director Dierk Seeburg and the entire staff of German School Phoenix in welcoming Katharina Blohm to the team as the new Assistant Director.  Katharina officially assumed her new position with “the best little German School in the West” in July, and will be focused on the day-to-day operation of the school.

Because Katharina knows the benefits of early language education, she eagerly supports the mission of the school and is also raising her children in a bilingual environment. As a native German with a Banking Diploma and work experience as an Assistant Department Manager, she brings both language and administrative skills to her new position.

Katharina moved from Germany to Arizona in April 2017 with her husband and their three young sons. When she’s not busy with her family, she likes to read and go hiking. She also has a passion for running and traveling, and would love to discover, and run in, all parts of the United States.

Willkommen, Katharina!

Remembering why we are here

Last week R started school. School is such a big reason we made this move. Not only do I believe that Germany has a better school system, but I also believe they value education to a level we do not see in the States.

In first grade, they have a huge ceremony and children take a huge cone to school called a schultute. Inside are school supplies, a toy and some candy. We got to see our cousin’s 1st day of 1st grade. Whole families came, aunts and uncles, cousins, younger siblings, opa’s and oma’s. There was a service at the church where each child got blessed. Then outside for pictures. Then we walked over to the school where the upper classes sang songs and preformed skits to welcome the first grade class. Then the kids finally went up to their classrooms while the parents got some new information from the staff before everyone went home to celebrate some more with the rest of the family. It’s a huge deal here.

R started 2nd grade. We gave her a schultute when she started Kindergarten in Arizona as her 1st day of school and celebrated with just our family. So this year, it was just back to school. But here is so awesome! Let’s start with the fact it’s so close we can walk to school in 10 minutes and bike it in 5. The grade school here (1-4th grade) keeps the same teacher every year, so 1 teacher moves up with her same class for 4 years. It creates a bond for the kids and helps the teacher really get to know her students. They promote independence here (a lot!) and encourage kids to walk to school on their own. It’s taken me a week, but R walked to school with a classmate this morning. She was all excited, I was a nervous wreck in tears. Tomorrow she’ll start coming home by herself too!

The school day for grade school is from 8-12:30. That’s it. After that your child can sign up for free afterschool programs. I was told I couldn’t pick for my daughter, she’ll pick the classes that interest her (promoting that independence). Unless it’s a paid program like dance or learning an instrument. Then I get to help pick. But she could choose from soccer, dodgeball, yoga, adventure playgrounds, cartoon design, cooking class, dog therapy, and a few others I can’t remember now. But all of those classes are free after school.

I do need to tell you though that is not a Germany wide thing. The city where we are living has a very progressive mayor and they are funding the afterschool programs and the pre-schools in this town. Unsurprisingly, this has driven up home values because everyone wants to live here now. Sadly, it means we are still searching for a place to live because rentable homes here are snatched up before they even get listed on the market. We are spreading the word to family and friends.

Food is also pretty well laid out here too. I send her with a small lunchbox that contains 2nd breakfast. A roll, fruit and veggie that they all get to eat in the classroom around 10 am. Then lunch happens after school is over at 12:30. So for parents who want to pick their kids up they would have to feed them. I pay 30 euros a month for the lunch program. R’s school is pretty big with lots of kids, so the upper classes eat in the cafeteria and R’s class eats in their classroom. They get real plates and real silverware – including a butter knife to eat their lunch with. Once they serve themselves what they want to eat, they put a mat at their table and then after lunch they have to clean their spot themselves.

Speaking of keeping things clean, the kids are required to bring house-shoes for the classroom. Took me a while to figure out what they meant by house shoes. It could be slippers, crocs or just slip on shoes. But basically clean shoes that aren’t bringing in the dirt from the outside into the classroom. So the cleaning lady doesn’t have to work so hard cleaning mud from the floor. Yup, teachers don’t have to clean their own classrooms here.

R’s favorite part of the day is recess. I know, right? They can play before school starts on the playground. Then there is a recesses during the morning. Then if the weather is nice, they are out 2 times after school is over too. And they have a huge garage that has larger toys for the kids to bring out and play with during recess. They have balls, scooters, I saw an old fashioned bike yesterday – you know the kind with the large front wheel and the tiny back wheel. One girl was riding around that. Then all the kids clean up after recess and put the toys back before they go back to their classrooms. Each classroom also has a secondary room next to it with games, books and a quiet area for kids who need a bit more space to do homework. It just feels so well rounded keeping kids more active.

R’s happy to go to school in the morning. I’m happy because I know she’s learning and having fun during the day. And we all love the extra recesses.

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!

 

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

Hunkering down to work

Vienna was awesome! Strange weather. We had rain, sun, rain, sun, so much heat and humidity we all wilted like flowers then a bit more rain. So we thought on Monday we would visit a local mall and find rain gear for all of us. We found jackets and rain boots for the kids. Their first pairs ever. It took us all day, but the mall was air-conditioned and we lingered.

Tuesday found us at Schonbrunn Palace. I have a picture of me on these very same steps when I was 20. I got to take the same picture with my daughter. It was so special! We took the kids to the “back yard” of the Palace. They had a really cool hedge labyrinth and a playground we really enjoyed. Then we went to the Children’s museum inside the east wing of the palace. I’ll be honest, I’ve taken several groups here and had no idea it had a children’s museum here. My friend who is from Vienna, said that was her first time there too. So there is that.

Me and R on the steps

This was the Neptune fountain in the back yard

Heading back to the palace to see the museum.

The kids really liked the museum. It was actually the children’s wing of the palace where the children had their rooms when they came stayed in the summer palace. The wing had been in use for children over 250 years! We got to dress up in period clothes, play with authentic toys from the era and learn about the rich vs poor. It was really well done. We left and made our way to a Heurige. This was a Viennese wine restaurant. Historically (not anymore), it was illegal to make large scale wine production, but the emperor declared that the locals could make their own and sell it in their own restaurants. Resulting in many different locals making their own house wine. Good wine for cheap. It’s usually a buffet, this one also had a playground for the kids and we really enjoyed seeing my friends Dad. He hasn’t changed a bit.

Wednesday we decided to go for a boat ride. There was a local nobility palace in Luxemburg (that was a town, not a country) with a small lake behind. We rented a little Joy boat for an hour and the kids enjoyed the water and the ducks.

The castle on the lake – now a hotel

Thursday we said our goodbyes. The kids were sad, they had so much fun playing together. We decided to push through and do the entire 12 hour drive all in one day. We made it home by 9 pm, with only a few stops. It was a long day, but little traffic so that was nice.

Friday found us doing the normal things. Laundry and sweating out the heat. The temperature is reaching in the high 90s here and we have no AC here. This is very common, most people don’t have AC. We camped out in the basement for a couple of nights just to sleep someplace cool. I went to the local OBI (similar to Home Depot) to see if I could get an extra fan, but everything is sold out. For 300, I could have purchased a room AC unit. Let me tell you how tempting that was. I did however find pillows for everyone. I will count that a solid win, as we really missed our pillows!

The next plan is to simply focus on getting our paperwork in order and finding a job or an apartment. Not sure what will happen first but I’m voting for buying a car first, with Air Conditioning. Priorities.