Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Me again...

OK....I'm terrible at this blogging thing :).  I haven't updated in ages and I'm not going to fool myself into thinking that I'm going to get better at this.  I spend a lot of time on my iPad...probably too much time...but not a lot of time on an actual computer.  I find it much easier to blog from the computer, with the typing and picture uploading, therefore, blogging doesn't happen very often.  Sorry!

Here's my update for the next 6 months ;)

We are approaching 2 years of being in Germany!  Some days I feel like we've lived here forever, and other days it feels as though the time has flown by.  We don't really know when we will be moving or where we will be moving, but 3 years tends to be the norm for most ex-pats.  If that holds true, we could be moving in a year, which seems crazy to me!  I really like Germany, I don't have many bad things to say about this country or Europe in general.  I do miss the USA though, it's my home and what I've known for the first 30 years of my life.  Luckily I grew up in an "International" family with my dad being from Chile.  So I've always appreciated other cultures and I'm thrilled that my kids are growing up the same way.  I find it so funny that Anna has lived in Germany longer than she lived in the US and Drew has about a year to go before that holds true to him as well.  They really don't remember living in the US.  Anna especially.  They love it here and we really realized that when we were in the US and Drew was counting down the days until we were heading back to Germany.  For them, this truly is home, and that's all I can hope for.  As long as my kids are happy, I'm happy.  I don't know what the future will hold for us, where we will be living and when the changes will happen, but I'm so thankful for this opportunity to experience a life in another country.  It may not always be easy, but if you ever have the chance to do it, DO IT!  You may find a place where you want to live forever, or you may have a new appreciation for your "home", but you will definitely learn a lot about yourself and your family and even your friends.  This is definitely an experience that will never be forgotten!  If we move back to the US and never live overseas again, at least we were fortunate enough to do it once in our lives...if this is just a stepping stone to more ex-pat assignments, then we will embrace that as well (although I do have some limits!). 

We just spent almost a month in the USA visiting family.  I never feel like I have enough time to do all that I want to do, or see everyone I want to see, or eat everything I want to eat ;).  We had fun though and we look forward to doing it again this summer. 

For now, Drew is in school at the Munich International School.  We couldn't be happier about the school and the teachers and families there.  Drew has learned so much and continues to amaze us with the things he's learning.  He's developed quite the British accent and picked up some new words, since he has 2 British teachers and many friends from England. 

Anna is still at home with me, but in September she will join the Busy Bees International Preschool where Drew attended last year.  She will probably only go 2-3 days a week, even though it is a full time preschool.  We will see how she does and go from there.  I know she will love it though, she is definitely a "busy bee"! 

The good-bye's to our ex-pat friends never gets any easier.  We just had to say good-bye to some friends moving to Beijing China!  They are great friends and we will miss them so much.  Drew and Hannah were quite the pair and Drew is already asking when he can see her again and wants to Skype with her :).  As the months go on we hear of people getting ready to move home or to somewhere new for their next adventure, but then we also welcome new families to the area.  It's very bittersweet and something you can never get used to. 

In March we will have some friends from Minnesota visiting us for the first time, so we are very excited about that!  Then in May, Rick's parents will be here for 2 weeks and we will be taking them to Disneyland Paris for their first time.  In July we'll be heading to the US for a few weeks, then my parents are hoping to visit us again for Christmas :).  I'm sure we'll plan some small trips in between to see the places we have yet to visit in Europe.  The UK and Amsterdam are on the top of my list right now!

Until next time...whenever that will be...Auf Wiedersehen!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Saying Good-Bye

The worst part about being an ex-pat is watching your friends come and go :(

The typical ex-pat contract is about 3 years.  Some stay a little longer, some leave a little sooner, but 3 years is usually the magic time frame.

The joke is, when you meet someone new and ask how long they've lived here, if they answer anything more than 2 years, you say "Nice to meet you, good-bye".  It's not usually that harsh, but it's kind of true.  Most likely they'll be leaving soon and you don't want to get too attached!  We are all in the same boat as ex-pats and understand that we won't be in one place forever, but we do form great friendships and it's so sad when it's time for someone to move on.

At some point it will be our turn to leave and say good-bye to our ex-pat community, but I do know that the friendships I've made here will last a lifetime!  And I know that we'll always have a place to stay no matter where we travel to!

Here is a picture of Drew with his friend Naomi on their last day of school together.  After 3 years, Naomi and her family will be heading back to the States!  I'm sure we'll see them again soon, since hopefully we'll be living in the same country again (unlike most of our other friends)!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What a difference a year makes!

On March 1, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary of moving to Germany!  In some ways it feels like we just got here, but in other ways it feels like we've lived her forever!

We've certainly seen and done so much since we moved here, yet there is still so much more to see and do.  We are getting our next travel spots in order and have a "Bucket List" of places we want to see before we move back to the States. 

Our next big trip planned is a cruise in May through Venice (Italy), Athens (Greece), Izmir (Turkey), and Split and Dubrovnik (Croatia).  We are cruising with Rick's parents and we couldn't be more excited to visit all of these amazing places!

We just had a fantastic SURPRISE visit from my family!  I thought they were coming to visit at the end of March, but they showed up at my door on March 9, the day after my birthday.  My Mom, Dad, and Grandma all came and we did the usual sight-seeing and just enjoying having family around.  My Dad is staying for a month (living the retired life!), so it will be nice to have him around for a while. 

As I look back at where we were a year ago, I can't believe how much we've learned and how far we've come.  When we moved here I knew 1 word in German, Danke.  Haha!  Now I can order in a restaurant, make appointments, read signs, and so much more.  I'm still far from being bilingual, but I'm happy with what I know, and I will continue to keep learning as long as we are living here.  I also learned how to drive a stick shift, which was a huge challenge (mentally) for me.  Now, I actually like it :).  I look back at my pro's and con's list and I see some changes.  I can actually move a few things off of the con list and on to the pro list :).  For example...I actually like paying for my shopping cart at the grocery store...you never have to worry about someone leaving a cart right next to your car, they are always put back where they belong! 

I'm sure my lists will have many changes as the days go on.  It's always fun to look back and see how much we've learned!  I'm looking forward to year #2 :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy 2012!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It's been a while since I've updated this...that seems to be a recurring theme here :)  Oops...

I thought since it's now 2012, that I'd take a moment to reflect on 2011 :)

What a year!  In January we put our home in MN on the market in hopes of a quick sell, so we could move across the world to Germany in March.  Well the house sold and we (the moving company) packed up all of our belongings and made the long journey to Europe.  Rick and I laugh at how my first time in Europe was to move here!  Talk about a leap of faith!  But, we are all very happy with our decision and we've had a blast learning new things and meeting new people.

We've been taking advantage of being so close to so many amazing places in Europe.  In 2011 we traveled to Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France and other parts of Germany.  Rick took it one step further and has visited almost every country in Europe and has even been to Russia! 

We were able to meet up with my parents in Florence Italy in June.
We had a visit from our best friends from Minnesota, Katie and Christian Miller, in July.
Rick's parents, his sister Amy, and our nephew Carson, stopped by for a visit in August.

In October we headed back to the States for a month long visit, including a stop in Disney World!  We were lucky enough to visit Purdue and take in a Basketball and Football game!  We made a quick trip to Wisconsin to visit my sister and her family, and also to visit Rick's grandma.  We, of course, squeezed in a Packer game and got to use 1 game of our season tickets! 

At the end of November we headed back to Germany!  We spent Christmas here, just the 4 of us, and enjoyed going to some Christmas Markets and keeping up with some German Christmas traditions.  On New Year's Eve we relaxed at home and enjoyed the fireworks (while praying that the kids would sleep through them) from our front windows! 

This year we are looking forward to a visit from my Mom, Dad, and Grandma in March/April, a wedding in Rome in September, and hopefully a visit from my parents and Rick's parents in September or October!  This summer we hope to do some more traveling and are looking forward to taking the kids to Legoland and Playmobil Park here in Germany. 

Shall I make a New Year's Resolution to keep up with this blog more?? 

Here are a few pictures from our visit "home" and Christmas!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Quick Update...

It's been a while since I've blogged.  This summer is flying by! 

We've had a great first summer in Germany!  We've visiting a lot of sights in the Munich/Southern Germany area.  We had our first visitors, Katie and Christian Miller come and stay with us for a week!  We did a lot of sight-seeing, catching up, and just enjoying having some company.  Drew loved the change of pace and seeing some familiar faces.  We had a blast and it sure made me miss home :(. 

Our next visitors will be arriving next week.  Rick's parents, Ron and Kay, and his sister Amy and my nephew Carson are all coming for a week.  They are currently in Italy and Switzerland on an Adventures By Disney trip, and will be making a stop here in Munich before they head back to the states.  We plan on doing some sight-seeing, visiting Kay's penpal in Baden Baden, and just enjoying having some family in town.  Drew is so excited to have his cousin Carson here, it's all he's been talking about for weeks...make that months!!

The kids are enjoying their time here also.  Drew has started his preschool, going once a week for the past month.  He will start going twice a week (full days) in September for the 2011-2012 school year.  He loves it and we think it will be really great for him.  He loves playing with his baby sister, but he also loves going to school to play with other kids his age. 

Anna has finally started walking!  She's been taking steps for about a week and today walked across the living room floor.  She still crawls most of the time, but she's definitely getting more confident and loves to walk.  She gets so excited when she makes it to Mommy :)  She had her first birthday on July 8th, it's hard to believe she's 1.  She adores Drew and even says his name when she sees him!  She now says Mama, Dada, Drew, Bye Bye, Ni-Night, makes some animal sounds and is almost off the bottle!! 

We've been enjoying the wonderful "summer" weather in Germany.  It's been mostly in the 70's, with higher temps here and there.  We've had a lot of rain, but we love the cool weather!  We're looking forward to the fall and even winter when hopefully we can get out and ski the Alps! 

We'll be traveling back to the States in October/November, and my parents and Grandma will be visiting us for Christmas!  We are beyond excited!

And...we just started our German lessons...so maybe I'll be able to blog in German at some point :)

Here are a few updated pictures :)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Feeling Sluggish...

I hate worms!  I always have!  When I was little I wouldn't get on the school bus one morning because there was a giant worm in my way.  My mom had to drive me to school :)  I remember it vividly.  But worms are nothing compared to....

Slugs and Snails!!! 

Ugh...apparently slugs and snails are German, because there are a ton here.  After a good rain they all come out.  I'll take worms over slugs any day :)  Some of them are big too, ewww...they are so gross! 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Investigation!

When we moved in and unpacked, I realized that I had 2 bags of Nestle Chocolate Chips that made the trip :)  We were really hurting for a good, sweet, gooey cookie, so I made a batch.  The one ingredient that I didn't have was baking soda.  What difference could 1 teaspoon make right?  I used baking powder instead, no harm no foul.  The cookies turned out great!  All of the dry ingredients were things that were packed from my pantry in the States, I even was smart and bought a big thing of Vanilla Extract from Costco before we left :).

The cookies went fast, so a week or so later, I made another batch.  I did the same baking soda/baking powder switch and this time (using all the same ingredients) the cookies were flat, paper thin!  I did a little research and sure enough, you can't switch baking soda and baking powder...no clue why it worked the first time??

So the search began for baking soda.  I thought it would be easy to find.  I mean, you wouldn't even have to label it in the US and most of us would be able to spot it on a shelf!  Well, no luck.  I couldn't find it anywhere!  I did a little online research and found what to look for.  Something called Natron.  A little tiny packet in the baking section (which is Germany, is like 2 shelves) at the grocery store.  I finally found it, my baking soda problems have been solved!

So I whipped up another batch of cookies and they turned out fabulous!  Granted, I had to chop up some baking chocolate because they don't sell chocolate chips here and I ran out of my stash.  But still, they were even better that way, home made chocolate chunk cookies!

Well, now I've run out of flour.  Had I know this was going to be an issue, that last trip to Costco probably would have cost me $1000 in "supplies"!

Anyway, I bought some German flour and made the recipe again.  And once again...flat, paper, cookies :(.  So I did a little research (online again) and have read that I need to sift my "dense German flour" and I need to mix my Natron with some water to help it "react"!

I need to find a sifter and try this again.  But in the meantime, I'm working on getting some normal baking soda from the States too.

I WILL get these cookies right...even if I have to make 100 batches :)

PS.  The dough still takes the same, so once we realize the cookies are going to be flat, Rick helps and just eats all the dough ;)