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

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.


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.

Checklist complete. On the road again!

This is starting to blur together. I should probably write this daily instead of looking through the photos at the end of each week wondering what we actually accomplished and did.

On Monday we registered R at Ami-Maiwald Schule. She will start in 2nd grade with 28 other students. We met with the principal and got to see the classroom. It was so beautiful with a neighboring room where the students could spread out when they needed to do homework or just sit quietly away from the noise of the other class. R was finally a little bit excited about school. But she now has about 5 more weeks of summer vacation, starting up again August 29th. Provided we stay in the area, and find a place to live. You know, if… if…. if… Anyway, she’s at least registered.

Tuesday M went to the Augentur für Arbeit (employment office) and he was able to meet with his direct councilor. He is officially unemployed here. That means he qualifies for a lot of extra benefits. They want him employed. So they will pay for all his work related documents to be translated (mine we will have to pay for but that is a huge help). Then he has registered for a class that will help him learn how to interview and write German cover letters. The companies look for different things here, so it’ll be very helpful. The other class he is planning to register for will be the HOAI class. It basically is the German construction codes that he needs to know. The employment office pays for all of this. And if he gets an interview, he can also submit his train ticket for reimbursement – even if he has an interview on the other side of the country! So cool. I’m waiting to hear back if we are covered for insurance while we wait too. Don’t know yet.

Downtown Baumberg

Then on Wednesday, we finally were able to open our bank account. It still amazes me how much time it took, but it is all finished now. Then I decided to do a bit of shopping at Rewe in the afternoon. I took R. It’s just a 5 minute walk to get to the store, which is really nice. So we started looking for stuff to make Nachos. Getting a bit homesick for comfort Mexican food. Surprisingly, we found taco seasoning, corn chips and tortillas! We also found an entire row made up of hot dogs. I ask you, why are there so many varieties of hotdogs here?!

Seriously, this is the hotdog aisle.

On Thursday I had my first bit of miscommunication. I thought we were going to meet our cousins at the pool around 9:30 am. So we get to the pool, no one shows up and we have a good time playing with the kids. R discovered the tunnel slide has neon lights inside and loved going down the slide repeatedly. We spent about 3 hours there, had lunch – because apparently every pool must sell French fries? (So I was told.) And went home with exhausted children and parents. Then I get a text from our cousin, shall we meet at 4:30 at the pool? Ok then, we go BACK to the pool and swim with the cousins for another hour and a half. Then we come back home even more exhausted and we put the kids to bed – they FINALLY sleep fast and we wander around in circles trying to pack our suitcases for our next trip. (We must have done well, we only forgot 1 charging cable.)

The resort got a thumbs up from the kids

Friday we started our drive to Vienna. We had planned to be up by 5 and out by 6. Except each of us was so tired and thought the other had set the alarm. Our son is normally our alarm and he was up by 6ish. So… we had a bit later start then planned, but got on the road by 7 and didn’t run into too much rush hour traffic heading out of Düsseldorf. According to Google it’s about a 10 hour drive, and we decided to split it into 2 sections. We drove south to Passau, a little town on the boarder of Germany and Austria. We made it about 4:30 with only a few stops along the way. We stayed overnight out in the fields at this amazing resort hotel. We played in the pool (not as warm but enjoyable) and then walked over to an amusement area where we found a restaurant with a play area in the middle! We ate our dinner while the kids played and got their wiggles out while we got to enjoy live music and a beer /wine. We made one small mistake that night and gave the kids the bedroom with the more comfortable bed. We slept on the couch bed, which was only a ½ step softer then sleeping straight on the floor. We both debated on sleeping in the middle of the kids and who would get there first but we were so exhausted that we passed out in the middle of the argument. Lol. Woke up pretty stiff and sore though.

Saturday morning we enjoyed a good Bavarian breakfast and jumped in the pool one more time before we headed out of town. We needed to buy a Vinette, which is a sticker for the car, a tax to drive our German car on Austrian freeways. It wasn’t too bad, only 9 euros for 10 days and we were able to buy one at the local gas station. Then we stopped at the Media Markt in Wells to pick up a new cable so I could finally charge my Iphone and let everyone know we were on the way and still alive. We made it to my friend’s house and we all got to know each other. It was the first time our families had met. We have known each other for 25 years! She was a homework assignment in my Lakeside German class. I needed a pen friend from a German speaking country. So I received her address and we wrote to each other frequently. She came to Arizona in 1994 to visit me for 2 weeks and I spent a week in 1997 in Vienna. Then we continued to write until 6 years ago when Collette Vacations sent me to Vienna for an Alpine country tour. Since then I’ve been lucky to see her in ’14, ‘16 and now we are spending a week here!

In heaven there ain’t no beer. That’s why we drink it here!

Sunday was a real treat though. We drove west into the Australian alps and found a Little White Zoo in Kernhof where most of the animals are white. It was located on the side of a mountain and we stayed to see it all. Even though it misted rain all day. Even though I was totally unprepared and we had to borrow raincoats from my friend for everyone. It was AWESOME! They had a camel show where the camels put on a play. The trainers fed them a treat to make their lips move when they had a speaking part. We saw white kangaroos, watch white leopards eat their lunch, and the best part was the white Siberian Tigers! We saw the big male tiger and 3 baby tigers just born last month. After the zoo, we drove over to see the Mariazell Basilica, bought some lebkuchen for dessert and drove our way back home. Once again exhausted.

Mariazell Basilica

Extended time on Late fee Charges!

If you’ve been still on the fence about taking German Classes this fall, we have good news for you!  We have extended our late fee date.  You can still register all the way to Sunday night (June 22) at Midnight without a late fee.  Here’s how to do it.

Step 1.  Register HERE

Step 2.  Pay HERE  Have a friend or family member?  Use discount code: REFERRAL

Step 3. Show up to class Saturday August 18th.

Classes are held at King of Glory Lutheran Church
(Southern Ave. west of Price Rd.)
2085 E Southern Ave
Tempe, AZ 85282

Viel Spaß!

Derailed and onwards

The beginning of the week found us still in Berlin. We had so much fun! On Monday I took the kids to the Labyrinth Museum, which was this super fun children’s Museum. It had a café where I could buy

coffee while the kids play. This is something American play-zones need to adopt – free wifi, coffee and happy children. I was in heaven!

This is my new key chain to remind me life is a journey.

M stayed behind at our apartment in Wedding to work on resumes and phone calls. He has a few leads this week that he has been keeping up with. We have had a small delay as he needs his tax id number and a separate retirement number to apply / get a job. Luckily, we were able to get the retirement number at the main office in Berlin. Fastest thing we’ve done so far.

Tuesday found us wandering around a cold Berlin. I really wanted to see the inside of the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. So I dragged my family down to the touristy area again. It was really intense inside. I’m not sure I’d recommend it for kids in the future. My kids didn’t understand a lot. I had them find something interesting in each room. They liked the displays where people (mannequins) where hidden inside cars or suitcases as they tried to escape to West Germany. This created a lot of questions. Why would they want to leave? Why did they have to hide? Why was there a wall? When we left, I asked R what she learned about the museum. She told me we should make friends, not walls. SUPER proud mommy moment!! Love my kids.

How do you explain this?

Wednesday found us back on the train to Düsseldorf. We had several appointments that we needed to follow up with and it was best we didn’t continue on my “Grand European Tour” that I had imagined. Thursday morning we met with the Bank. Small town bank, they had no idea what to do with my American passport. She had no idea how to enter me into the computer, or if I’d need to pay taxes on any money I earned. So, we made another appointment for this coming Wednesday. And we still don’t have an account.

Then we went to visit the catholic school around the corner. Tante H works there and the cousins go there, so it was a good place to start. However, 2011 was a very good year around here and both classes were full with 31 children each. So around the corner to the public school we went and asked to register there. I know that you’re thinking the same thing as me. Why do we need to register so early? Apparently Germans always know where they are moving to and register before school ends. That and since the teachers get paid here properly, they are all on vacation through the summer and no one is at the school for registration. This town is especially popular because the mayor is young and has subsidized the afterschool program and the preschools and the cost ranges from free to very little a month. So, we are registered. Now to find a place to live around here, which is a LOT harder then I imagined. Think Tempe /Scottsdale pricing and no one moves out. Ugh.

German Cafeteria – The kids eat with real plates and silverware. Then clean their own tables.

On Friday Cousin R showed us where the local pool was. We loved it! It was heated, and K didn’t end up blue and shivering like he normally does. We played there until we got hungry and came home. Tante H’s house is the center of all the cousins around here, so there is always someone stopping by. She’s been here 50 years and knows almost everyone (very much to our benefit!!). And the kids made friends with some of the neighborhood children. It’s so safe around here, we’ve let them ride their bikes up and down the street and kick the ball around. It’s really the first time I’ve let them out of my sight (I am sitting in the backyard and they do come back into view so I’m not in a total panic.). We did find a bike for K on Sunday after church. It was a 12 inch tire and it fits him well. He’s a bit baffled about what to do with the pedals, but that will come fast enough. He was ready; he had already mastered the balance bike. So I get to run behind my child this week and teach him to ride a bike! Mommy goals. 😀

Relaxing with cousins (watching TV)