Saturday, June 30, 2012

Another week, another post. :)

Just have to say that I have 100 pageviews. Which for some reason I find totally cool. Anyhow...

Saturday morning (okay it's 12:30) again and here I sit. Coffee, croissant, nutella, music, and my blog. :)

I had my first "Girls I'm about to be totally protective and try NOT to freak you out at the same time" moment yesterday. We went out to the playground which is normally pretty deserted. There was a guy sitting on the bench but a woman and her child were headed in before us so I thought maybe he was waiting on them. Nope. He had a large brown bottle (which means beer here just like it does in the US). He kept watching the kids playing. I kept them very close to me and tried to not use their names. I used nicknames (like I call Yael Goose half the time because she's a silly goose and I just called Nuria Baby Girl etc-Noemi wasn't with us). The other woman left after a few minutes and this guy kept staring at my girls. I tried to covertly get details so I could describe him later if G-d forbid anything happened. (How tall, hair color, age, what he was wearing, etc) Yes I was probably being paranoid but this guy was creepy. When he decided to have a cigarette, he kept staring at me as he rolled it. So he's licking the paper and looking at me. (At least he wasn't looking at the girls I guess...) I was very glad when he left but of course this jerk had to leave his bottle behind (which as I put in the trash I looked at and at 10am this guy had a large alcoholic beer (I think it was comparable in size to a 40 back home)!

Thursday when we were out Nuria was so tired but she fought sleep until the last possible minute. I tried to put her in the wrap to head home and she squirmed so hard I was honestly afraid I was going to drop her. I gave up on the wrap, sat down for a minute to think about possible solutions, and finally called Kathrin to get her to help me bring the girls home. (Yael had brought her stuffed husky-which she calls a Dachsi (short for Dachshund) in a toy stroller and we didn't have the normal stroller since I had assumed Nuria would be asleep in the wrap before we got there.) She didn't answer the cell so I took a deep breath and was about to just carry Nuria home across my arms when I decided to try one more time. This time she made it into the wrap and was asleep within two minutes. We got home and she was still out. When Kathrin had to leave to get Noemi from kindergarten (which if I haven't said before is the German equivalent of pre-school), she looked at Nuria still asleep in the wrap on my chest and I simply said, "She's staying here." It was difficult enough to get her to fall asleep I was not about to risk her waking up whether I had to deal with a cranky baby or Kathrin did. So I stayed sitting down in the kitchen with her on my chest asleep and just hung out. She was still out when Kathrin got home. She only woke up when I started moving around because the older two girls wanted to paint their salt dough creations and I had to set things up. She'd gotten enough sleep though that she wasn't a total terror as any child can be when a nap is interrupted. Without realizing it, I had no alone time all day Thursday. I spent the morning with Yael and Nuria, my "break" with Nuria asleep on my chest, my afternoon painting salt dough creations with Yael and Noemi, then went out for ice cream and to the park with Kathrin and all three girls. That was a lot of fun but when we got back, I was supposed to go to a dance performance at the theatre that Daniel had gotten me a ticket for. As soon as I was alone in my room, I sat down on the bed and tired hit me like a ton of bricks along with the need for some time alone. I fell asleep around 7:30 that night, in my clothing with my contacts in and without setting an alarm and woke up the next morning at 8:45 to Kathrin knocking on my door and my internal monologue going "Crap!". I brushed my teeth and went downstairs without changing or anything else. I headed to the playground with the girls and that was when I had that overly protective experience.

I get to Skype with Mary Beth tonight which I'm really looking forward to. It's been a month since I've heard her voice and six weeks since I've seen her. I cannot even believe that. I've been in Germany just over a month. I'm pretty much acclimated. There's certain things I'm realizing I like better in German, phrases and such. Garnichts is better than nothing. Nicht in dein Nase boren is better than don't pick your nose. But shower is better than Dusche. I figured out you can get baking soda (I think) from the pharmacy. I'll have to check that one out before I have mom send me some.

I started working out this week. I went for a run Monday and Wednesday and did a few exercises while the girls played in the backyard yesterday (crunches, etc). I'm going to do some yoga either today or tomorrow. I was going to just run but I've realized that I hate running and it's boring. So my goal is to work out three times a week with at least one of those being a run. I think that sounds reasonable. And the yoga program that I used to do I just found two episodes of online so I'm super excited about that. It's tough and it's an hour long but it's so worth it. Great music, very inspiring, etc. I'm definitely going to do that soon. I also need to go and get some stationary supplies today (permanent markers, big envelopes, stamps-but that'll probably wait until Monday).


Of course I closed my laptop and walked away so now I'm back. I've got the supplies I needed, got the mail in the envelopes, and got some fun markers. :) Of course while buying my envelopes, the woman asked if I needed a "Briefmarke" and I could not remember the freaking word! She pointed to the corner of the envelope and I realized "Uh duh. Stamp!" Then I explained I didn't know how heavy they'd be and she smiled like "Okay you're not a total idiot who doesn't speak any German." She had awesome pink hair. :) Then I went to the discount textile shop and bought a few little things. I tried to buy two longer sleeved shirts but for once left my change at home so I was a bit short. I managed to get one of them though. :) Then I bought a white mug at the euro store that I'm about to change into a super cool awesome personalized Doctor Who mug for a total cost of two euros and fifty-nine cents. :)

See y'all next time with a picture of my mug. Because mugs are cool.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Midweek update - I am now a runner.

It's only Wednesday and I'm already back to update. :) I've been chatting with a few English speakers that I met on facebook lately and on Sunday morning we got together to have breakfast at an "American" style restaurant. Alle (pronounced Allie) picked me up to give me a ride along with her boyfriend (who's from here) and another English speaking girl who's from Finland. It was pretty close and we were the second group there. The first was Robin, a gentleman from England who moved here to be with his wife. Deena and her husband came along with a Brazillian couple, a couple in which one is from North Ireland and one is German, and another couple who I didn't have much time to talk with due to table configurations. The buffet was supposed to be American but I didn't identify half the items on there. They had "pancakes" but they were half fried. Good but not at all like a pancake. The conversation was good though. :) We talked about a lot of things all over the place. It rained the entire day. Which sucked ass. As always.

Monday I started the Couch to 5K plan and went for my first run. :) It actually went really well except that I got lost on my way back. In the end I was just down the road but I didn't recognize the name of the street. Today's run didn't go so well though. I just couldn't get into the groove and couldn't find the right pace. I did find some good music though at least.

Yesterday, I went to Aida, the opera, with Frau Bobach. My brain never got a chance to shut off or relax. And of course I didn't eat nearly enough. I skipped breakfast and didn't have time for dinner. During the intermission, Frau Bobach bought me a fizzy apple juice. The lyrics were in Italian and the subtitles were in German. It was difficult enough with enough words that I was unfamiliar with to give me a headache. The show was good. The theater was small, intimate, with some odd sort of light screen at the back of the theatre. The voices of the actors were so powerful. All three of the top billed singers were just fabulous. I wasn't sure if I should be rooting for Aida and Radames or not based on the emotion that the Pharoah's daughter was showing. It was heartbreaking. And of course Daniel is the conductor of the orchestra so it was cool to see him work.

Lastly, today we made salt dough ornaments with the girls. They're still drying in the kitchen and they're not nearly dry yet but it was fun (and a total mess) and tomorrow they get to paint them.

I know this is rather a perfunctory update. Today I'm just feeling a little off. Most of the day has been a typical day but for some reason it's off. I just don't feel quite right. My run sucked, I'm not tired but not awake, I'm missing America, and Artemis has been acting up. It must be hormones. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, hormones exist in Germany as well. I think tomorrow is a Starbucks afternoon... Take Minerva and go buy a drink. That sounds nice... We'll see what happens.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Week in Review

Well it's another Saturday afternoon and I'm sitting at the dining room table with a cup of coffee next to me and the apartment to myself. This was a long week. Noemi had field trips to the forest three days in a row and I think she went somewhere Friday as well but I'm not sure where. Field trips make for one tired girl. She also had to wake up earlier each day which meant so did her sisters which made for said long week. Because she was so tired, we didn't do much of our one hour of English. She also had friends over two days this week. It's very interesting when she has friends over for me because they don't speak English. They don't understand me at all. Noemi acts as translator which is cute but it's frustrating to me to not be able to get instructions for a craft or such across.
Speaking of crafts, I've decided each week we'll do one "big" craft or project and then other little ones randomly. This week we did Oobleck on Monday for Nuria's first birthday. It's a mixture of cornstarch and water that defies the laws of physics. :) If you've never done it, I don't care how old you are. Go to the store, get some cornstarch, mix with water (the ratio should be between 1:1 and 2 parts cornstarch to 1 part water), and play. Food coloring is also fun to add.

So the week in rundown using my handy dandy calendar as reference: (Yes I did just make a freaking Blue's Clues reference. I have younger siblings. Shoot me.)

I babysat the girls during the afternoon and we made a chocolate cake with chocolate glaze for Nuria (who slept through the baking making my job easier). Baking with them went much better this time. Since they both understand me when I tell them something, it made life easier. They did, however, keep dipping into the dough with their fingers and pre-used spoons. I did let them lick the spoons and beaters clean when we were done though. I'm not completely evil. (And yes, I did eat some of it myself. It was delicious. And from a box!) Since it was Father's Day back in the states, I made sure to send Dad a text and sent wishes to Poppy via Gramma. Once Kathrin got back from Aida, I slipped out to get ready and head out to dinner with Frau Bobach. She told me we were going out for Chinese. We walked over there (it was about 30 minutes or so there) and chatted, mostly in German. The restaurant wasn't at all what I think of when I think of Chinese. It was a sort of weird Hibachi version. I felt rather out of place and unsure of what to mix together or how much to get. :/ If we go back again, I'll know better. They have a buffet line where you pick your meat, vegetables, etc. Then you stick a color-coded toothpick into it with what type of sauce you want (mind you my German food list is rather limited so I stuck to things I was certain of-especially given the whole Kosher eating thing!). They cook it on a grill then bring it over to your table when it's done. It was good but not what I was expecting. I was thinking sesame chicken and lo mein. Oh well. Next time, I'll know. Oh and can I just say that it's annoying that whenever you order a water they bring you mineral water? Dear Germans, Tap water is okay. Love, Vickey. The night wound up going for longer than I thought. I didn't get back until around 11 and by then I just went to bed.

Yael had a doctor's appointment so I took Nuria out to do some shopping for craft supplies. She slept most of the time which meant I didn't have to look like a crazy person walking down the street singing African-American spirituals to keep her from crying and I didn't have to rush. I got two rolls of wrapping paper, cornstarch, colored pencils, coffee filters, paper plates, baggies, and something I'm forgetting to use for crafts. We've used some of it already. The coffee filters were made into butterflies with some markers and some water the other day. The girls loved it. :) So that afternoon we had the cake, made oobleck, and ran around the backyard. The oobleck was a definite hit and if you've never made it, like I said, you really ought to.

Nothing astronomical happened Tuesday. I worked all day due to various appointments and such. Yael didn't want to leave the house so we played with legos and such. After dinner, I took my first excursion out at "night" to get a McFlurry from McDonald's. I tried the brownie Magnum one. So rich! There were some pieces in it though that were kind of gritty that I'm not a huge fan of. I also walked around and just checked things out. And I realized that whenever I see an attractive male, my first thought is "Hello, Sweetie." Thank you River Song for that one.

Because of my long day Tuesday, Kathrin let me sleep in an extra hour. I took the girls out to the park and bought croissants on the way there. That afternoon, she made tiramisu with the girls. One portion was "adult" (it had Ameretto in it) and the other was caffeine free and alcohol free for the kids. It was delicious. I told Eric he should get on a plane to come have some but he thought it was "too pricey". Too bad. It was some good tiramisu. I also sent Kathrin a list of ingredients for recipes that I have made before. I agreed before I came here to help with the cooking and I'm still more than willing. I just use recipes when I cook whereas she's got the ability to look at what there is and go "Okay, these things go together and if I just pick up some cream I can whip up XYZ for lunch tomorrow." There are two kinds of people in this world: bakers and cooks. Bakers need recipes, plans, etc. Cooks are more spontaneous, able to instinctively throw things together, and know what goes well. I'm a baker. Which actually is something I was thinking about this morning.

I always need a plan for things. I can't just decide to start something. Like yesterday I spent the afternoon creating a workout plan. I couldn't just whip one up or just go with the flow. I had to research and decide and combine other people's plans and even then I had to figure out whether or not I had combined in the right way. I was going to start a Couch to 5K program but then I realized: I hate running. Why do something I hate? So I'm doing things like crunches, pushups, jumping jacks, etc. I'll be glad when I get back to the states and get my license so I can use the Y whenever I want to. I might give running a try when we get back from Paris. I don't exactly fancy getting lost in foreign cities. Anyhow, even in my devotions, I want a plan. Just picking up the Bible and reading doesn't seem like enough to me. What if I'm not getting the right things out of it? I don't feel like I learn much from reading the Bible as awful as that sounds. I feel like it's kind of required as a Christian but I don't think that it's as helpful to me as it ought to be. Which makes me think I'm doing it wrong and that I need a better plan. I guess that's something I need to pray about. Ask G-d to help me learn what He wants me to through whatever He uses. I'm also realizing that right now, life is pretty good. I'm not scared about the fact that I'm 4000 miles away from my family. I feel at home in Europe. I've always wanted to come here and I don't really like being a tourist. I like living there. And this is fantastic. I forget that I'm so far from home, that it took 24 hours of travel to get here, that there's an ocean between me and my family and friends. Europe is somewhere I feel safe, I feel welcome. The language barrier is still there a little bit but I know enough German to understand so long as people slow down a bit. I can't do the mile a minute and no my grammar is not perfect. But I can make myself understood and I can do what I need to. Now that I'm here, I can completely see myself living here. If not forever, for a while. I can see spending a year or two here and there in countries where I can speak the language with my husband and even our kids. Though I still think I see myself in the US when kids come. I do still want to see the other 40-something states that I've never been to but right now I could settle in Europe for a while. And because I feel so safe here, because I'm not struggling with much at the moment, it's so easy to let my faith slip. It's so easy to let myself not read the Bible or go to church or take the time to pray. And in a culture where being a true Christian is about as common as an atheistic lesbian in Houghton (aka it could happen but it's not likely), it makes it even harder. It's difficult to remember that being a good person is not enough in this world. I need to be a light for Christ. I need to be more than what the world says. But how the hell do I do that? No matter what culture I'm in or where I am, I've always found it hard to rely on Christ in the good times. It's easy when life sucks to remember that He is the One who will get me through and that I need Him but when life is good? When I should be thankful for all the blessings I've been given? It's easy to forget. I can praise Him in the storm but when the weather clears, how long does it take for my attitude to change? I never desert Him or defame Him. I always know that there is One G-d and that He is the One who lets me live such a blessed life. I can even manage on the amazing days (graduation for example) to praise Him for getting me through. But on a typical day? It's too easy to forget.

I spent the afternoon shopping. I went out for shoes and chocolate and a few other things were on the "if I can find them" list. I spent 45 euros in 2 hours. My feet were so tired but it was fun. I got to explore some side streets that I hadn't been on before. I got some chocolate that has pieces of oranges and almonds in it (oh my gosh amazing melt in your mouth fantastic) as well as some normal black tea. Most black tea here is Darjeeling and it has a slightly flowery taste. I got a typical black tea. It's "Ceylon Assam Schwarztee-Mischung". Which Ceylon totally sounds like a Doctor Who monster. I also found a shoe store (near Starbucks) that has cheaper shoes. I got a pair of Victory sport shoes for 20 euros. They're cute, comfortable, and cheap. (Thank you to Jens for the idea to look up the chain!) I also got a box for my souveniors from NanuNana and magazines in German for a few friends. At the OTHER NanuNana in town, I found a thermos that I can put a picture inside. (Now to decide what to put in there.) And of course at this cute little shop called Le Artiste, I found the PERFECT postcard for Mom.  (MOM DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK: It's like this except it says "From Osnabruck With Love".)

I took the girls to the park again (like almost every day) and nothing much happened honestly. I spoke to a German mom who is just another one in the long line of people that believe Yael and Nuria are mine. When Yael started speaking German she was surprised because I spoke only English with the girls. It took saying, "They are German. I am the au pair." again. Which that lead to the usual "Oh where are you from? How long have you been here? How long are you staying? Do you like Germany?" questions. As predictable as college conversations. "Where are you from? What's your major? How'd you pick Houghton?" And then in the afternoon Noemi had Julia over (the same friend we made the cookies with). They went out to play at the playground but not before Julia called Yael stupid. I picked Yael up and told her, in English, "You know what? Julia is wrong. You are not stupid. You are smart and wonderful and you are not stupid." I added in German when necessary for emphasis to make sure she understood. Kathrin and the girls had dinner with Julia and her mom so Daniel and I were on our own. I made some oatmeal and worked on my workout plan/cross stitch for Eric. I also got my VPN to work so I can watch Netflix from here. Which is just freaking awesome.

Typical Saturday. I slept in a bit, got up, did a short workout, made coffee, started blogging. Today I got interrupted by Kathrin and the girls coming back so it's taken several hours to do. Herr Switala and Alexander just got finished cutting some vines off the ceiling over the veranda. I'm guessing I'll go to the evening service at Marienkirche tonight. I haven't been yet and tomorrow morning I'm going out to an American style restaurant/buffet with some English speakers (including the girls I met last week for coffee). Oh I also have to remember to hang my wash up. It's in the washer right now. I've got about an hour til I have to leave for the service and I have to get a shower, hang my wash, and change my outfit. So til next time- tschus!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday routine :)

I forgot to mention last time that I've also eaten lamb several times since I've been here. I think the fact that I don't eat pork is a slightly bigger hassle than Daniel and Kathrin expected. It's fairly easy to buy turkey sausage (which is a regular part of our meals) but the other night we tried to order a pizza. They all either sounded totally weird or had "salami" (pepperoni). We wound up eating a tv-dinner type lamb curry. It was actually really good. I've also had lamb sausage. Before I came here, I hadn't eaten it. Partly because "poor little lamb" and partly because I hadn't had much of a chance. I did, however, pass on the veal cutlets the other night. I'm not ready to eat a baby cow. Morals still win out in that, though Kathrin and Daniel didn't realize I didn't eat any meat that night as they were going out so it was just me and the girls.

I've gotten into a fairly good routine, at least for Saturdays. If I stay in bed for a while just messing around on the internet and with my iPod, I can manage to sleep in enough to be refreshing but not so much that the day is half gone. Then by the time I get ready and come down to the apartment, they're out shopping. So I can bring Artemis down and sit at the table, write in here, do any necessary research for life, whatever. I make a french press of coffee and just hang out. It's nice. Makes me feel adult. To have my laptop and my coffee and an empty apartment. (Since I've got the place to myself, I took pictures of it and uploaded them to both facebook and flickr by the way.)

I'm not sure exactly what else I'm going to do today. I ought to go get a few things from the store. I need vinegar to clean my showerhead, cornstarch for oobleck Monday, and eggs/milk/butter for a cake I'm baking tomorrow. I hate that almost everything is closed on Sundays and a lot of things are closed Mondays. It's annoying. I can handle that it closes by 8pm because honestly I'm in the house by 6 95% of the time but knowing I can't run out tomorrow to get the things I need to bake with the girls is annoying! Speaking of baking, we made American style chocolate chip cookies the other day. It was chaos. I had Noemi, Yael, and Noemi's best friend Julia (who doesn't understand English). I had to find ways for each girl to have a turn, to not seem like I was playing favorites, etc. And of course they kept trying to eat the dough. I'm hoping baking tomorrow with Noemi and Yael will go better. They both understand me when I speak and it's easier to divide into two parts than three. Plus tomorrow we're using a box mix. :)

I'm working on finding reading material in German as well as English. I've got TONS of books in English to read on my Kindle for free from but I've honestly never picked up a book in German on my own (sorry Frau Mac!). I have no clue what my reading level is but I'm going next week to get a German library card (I don't feel like doing it today). It'll let me get things out of the library and I intend to get out some books from the kids section. I also found several recommendations online for easy German novels. I'll be looking them up but for now I bought one that's written in e-mail form auf Deutsch. It was only a dollar and it'll give me something to read on my Kindle instead of having to tote around a book. :) Have I mentioned lately that I love Minerva? She's freaking fantastic. I charged her for the first time last night and it's been nearly a month. I've read five books and played games on her without having to charge it.

Well, I'm off to go compile a list of crafts and necessary supplies I need to do with the girls. Both for just everyday (like oobleck on Monday) and for specific holidays (like the 4th of July). Ideas are welcome. Leave links/ideas in the comments.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Crazy Doctor Day (And Not the Good Kind)

Man am I emotional today... I think it's been a long day. I've nearly cried twice in the last half hour. I cannot wait for bed. I've honestly had the craziest day since my 24 hours of travel! It started out knowing I had an 8:15am doctor's appointment to get a refill on my anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medicine. I didn't really think that going off it (a) cold turkey, (b) in a foreign country, (c) without doctor's approval was a good idea. Kathrin had made the appointment for me yesterday and told me the address, what papers I needed, etc. So I looked up directions. It was supposed to be a 20 minute walk. Yeah. Right. About that. I got lost. First I woke up late then I couldn't find Georgestrasse. I asked a couple guys outside McDonald's. They were NO help. I asked a middle-aged gentleman. He gave me perfect directions, half in English since he saw my notes were written in it. I wound up going WAY WAY past where I needed to be when I tried to find Moeserstrasse. I called Kathrin, knowing I was already late, and told her, auf Deutsch, "I know where I am; I don't know where I should be." She looked it up online and gave me directions over the phone, thank heavens! If I didn't have that cell phone (which by the way is one they gave me to use here), I'd have been so screwed today. I was so far, she asked if I saw a taxi nearby. I finally got there 15 minutes late (aka my 20 minute walk was more like 40 and FAST).

The receptionist was a bit brisk which made her difficult to understand (mind you ALL of this is happening in German unless otherwise noted). I gave her all of the papers I had and hoped it was what she asked for/needed! She directed me to the waiting room then called me in after a minute to a different room. She had several questions for me regarding insurance and so on. Of course, I didn't bring my freaking passport for photo ID. All I had was my NYS permit. Like she had any idea if that was valid or not. We finally got everything all figured out and I went back to the waiting room. Also, we needed either Kathrin or Daniel's signature on a paper because the insurance is in their name. So Daniel had to come down to sign for me. Since he was there he offered to drive me home if the appointment didn't take too long. I got to go into the office to talk to Dr. Glaescher and it was less than 5 minutes. It was easier to get a prescription here than it was to get what I wanted from Dr. Brubaker at Houghton! I showed him my bottle and told him that I have depression. He asked when my last depressive episode was (remember in German). I explained that I've been depressed since I was 12 and this helps keep it away. This medicine is VERY expensive here. I thought he said it was 47 Euros for 100 pieces. I'm thinking "Okay. That's 3 months. Like 20 Euros a month. That's not bad..." I missed the 200 part. It's 247 Euros. I almost said forget it. But I kinda need this medicine. :/ Plus I don't have anyone to talk to about going off it. Maybe I'll just wean myself off in the next few weeks and go back on it again in the fall when I know it's going to get bad again? But I'm not sure messing with my meds with so much else going on is a good idea. I was on Prozac long enough that I had carte blanc from my doctor to adjust as needed. This is still relatively new. Thankfully, Daniel helped me both pay for the medicine and understand the crap with the pharmacy. We have to pay upfront for the medicine (which was delivered to our mailbox this afternoon) but the insurance should pay us back. Honestly, if not for him, I would have said f-this. Oh and by the way, my appointment was meant to be tomorrow! But they squeezed me in. Honestly this morning was INSANE.

So I finally got home, had a cup of coffee and a croissant and took a deep breath. Then I took Ellie and Nuri to the little playground nearby that Ellie loves. When we got there, another woman and a little boy were there. Because I speak English with the girls, I always feel like other caretakers and people look down on me for not speaking German. They don't know I can speak it just fine but I'm teaching the girls English. It's as if I must not speak the native language because I'm a stupid American. So I thought "Oh great. Another person to secretly judge my supposed lack of German." But as soon as I said something to Ellie in English, the woman looked at me and asked, "You speak English?" She's from England, barely speaks German, and was there with her son who turned 1 the day I got to Germany. It was nice to have a conversation in person in English with a native speaker. (Haha Daniel JUST walked in with my medicine.)

Speaking of English conversations... I'm so unused to speaking in English except simple things to the girls that when I was skyping with Gramma today, I almost said things like "four and ninety" or "nine and twentieth of May". But tomorrow I'm getting together with a group of English speakers at Starbucks. I'm really looking forward to it. I have to do a few things tonight to get prepared. Shower, clip my nails. Nothing extravagant but I'd rather not look like it's been a long week even if it has been. I'm really hoping to make a friend. I've realized that I'm going to need some adult contact outside of Daniel and Kathrin. They're great and I'm so glad to have found such a wonderful family but they are also my employers. I need to just be able to relax and hang out and speak my own freaking language. Because my grammar isn't great, speaking German, especially slightly complicated sentences, takes brain power. Another reason I'm tired at the end of the day.

I've been playing a lot of memory with Noemi to help her language skills. She's got at least 95% of the words already from her set so I made new ones the last few days. I'm really impressed with how quickly she's picking it up. I barely have to translate or rephrase anymore. If I'm ever in doubt, I simply ask "Verstehst du?" and she'll reply honestly. Yael understands most of what I say but won't use English. She says "Please" and sometimes "thank you". We've got a system down now that when she doesn't know what something is she'll say "Was heisst Katze?" for example and I'll reply "Katze auf Englisch is cat." When I don't know the German word for something, like this morning I forgot the word for slide, I asked, "Was heisst das?" as I pointed to the slide. I accidently said the word for beautiful instead of the one for slide and asked "Wo ist der hobsch?" (Where is the beautiful?) She pointed to me and said, "Du bist hobsch." (You are beautiful.) I realized my mistake and smiled. It was so cute! I also managed today to say that in the letter from my parents circumcision instead of divorce.

A list of things I've learned in the last three weeks here:

Milchkaffee is seriously coffee with milk in it. Still needs sugar.
Coffee with a teaspoon of cocoa in it is delicious.
Noemi does not like to be tickled or flipped upside down.
Yael says she doesn't like to be tickled but she laughs her head off.
Nuria loves to be thrown in the air.
I know two different ways to tie and wear a baby sling for Nuria.
Singing "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" nearly always quiets Nuria down when she's just being fussy.
The library here costs money to get a card (which I'll be doing either tomorrow or Saturday).
Lexapro here is incredibly expensive.
The showerhead in the apartment is better than mine. (Mine sputters and gets water in my eyes. Theirs is actually functioning lol)

There's plenty more as well but those are what comes to mind immediately. Oh and there's no good word here for "nerd". As in "I'm being a nerd and teaching your children about Doctor Who without any of you realizing it." (Aka "Bowties are cool" and "Always bring a banana to a party!")

It's been a long enough day that it's time for me to get ready for bed. (Well shower then bed.) G'night all.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday #2

Hello, world. :) It's about quarter to four pm right now as I start writing this. The girls are out with Kathrin, Daniel is at the theatre, and Frau Rodriguez is cleaning the bathroom/kitchen. I'm just hanging out and debating if I should (a) get more coffee, (b) go up to my room, (c) go out and buy more cookies. :) So far today, I've woken up, drank 1/4 cup of coffee, and got the girls ready to go out to a park. First we went shopping as per Ellie's request. We got some smoothies (like Naked brand) for her and one to bring back for Noemi and a baked good for Ellie, Nuria, and me. We ate and then headed to Starbucks so I could get a coffee. Well it was too full and I kept spilling it so I literally threw it away rather than keep spilling it. Naturally 2 freaking minutes later, we were at the park. I didn't realize we were so close! So I may as well have thrown nearly 2 euros away. We spent a few hours at this playground in the city that has a water pump and the girls got pretty wet. It was actually fairly warm out though for once! It's been about 65 at the most but in the sun it was at least 75 today. :P What a hot summer. (Decision made. I'm getting coffee. The other two are still being debated.) Once we got a bit bored with that, we headed "back home". I knew Nuria would fall asleep in the stroller and that we'd wind up going to another playground for Ellie. But first, I had to get completely lost with two little girls in tow of course. We poked around a shop and I bought Ellie a "Pixi" book. (It's a brand of little square books that are 0.95 each.) While we were in this magazine shop, someone wanted to admire the girls and she thought they were mine. Rather than explain to some stranger that no, these are not my daughters, I simply smiled and nodded. This crazy old woman also did not appreciate my large arm tattoo. Just made me want to make it into a real half sleeve. Get covered in ink. Then see what she thinks. :rolls eyes: I'm sorry but it's my body and some stranger has no right to comment on what I choose to do with it. I may look young but I am old enough to decide to proclaim my beliefs for all to see on my body. G-d has plans for me that are wonderful and that I could never fathom. Even being here in Osnabruck is something that He must have decided long before I ever dreamed of it. I feel so at home here most of the time. It's actually more comfortable in some ways than Penfield. I can get everywhere on foot. I know where I can get a coffee cheap. I can converse in German well enough to buy a strong allergy medicine without help (which by the way we also did before we went shopping). I'm eating healthier here than I do at home and less too. Not so much junk. Almost everything is fresh, prepared that day, bought within the week. Yes, I eat something not so great for breakfast (like a croissant and coffee) but at least I'm eating breakfast here! And I'm realizing I don't NEED as much sugar in my tea/coffee. Yes, I prefer it sweeter but I'm finally growing up when it comes to that. :) I really think this is a great job for me to have especially right after college. I'm on my own but I still have plenty of support. I've got my host parents that are willing to help me whenever I need anything. I've got Germans that I knew before I came here that have helped answer stupid questions that I don't want to ask Kathrin. :) I have my own room that I have to keep clean and I do my own wash and whatnot (just like in the dorms) but I also don't have to worry about cooking every night or paying rent. I am saving money but have few bills that I have to pay. Just my credit card - which I need to make a payment on next week. That payment will get it MOSTLY paid off too which is just freaking awesome. :) I'm also not really using it here. There's a 3% finance charge so if/when I use it, I'll be paying interest PLUS a "Oh you're using Euros? Let's charge you" fee. (When I need to use it, I can always use it online and then select USD as the currency.) By the way, current exchange rate? 1 Euro is $1.25. Not bad at all.

Yesterday we went to the Alfsee. It's a small lake where they have a water-ski course, a small small beach (think smaller than Charlotte, Rochester people), and a few places to eat. There's also an area with a trampoline, mini-golf, and a rock-wall. It was my day off so I didn't have to go but it sounded fun. :) It was a long long day though. I was off but I was still playing with the girls and hanging out. My brain was working in German (which gets easier and easier). With all the fresh air and the times I was watching out for the girls on the playground, I was very glad to get home at the end of the day. Vigilance for the safety of small children is tiring! And of course, Noemi is only concerned with the fact that I'm not letting her do what she wants. I can't communicate that it's not safe! I said to Kathrin towards the end of the day, auf Deutsch, "I'd rather she think I'm evil and have her safe than have her love me and be in danger." Which of course is true and made Kathrin very happy to hear that. She knows I really care about these girls and that they're safe when they're with me. Mind you, they don't really think I'm evil; just when I'm mean for a few minutes to keep them safe. At least 95% of the time, they adore me. :) Oh and you know you're in Germany when the girls like beer better than you do! And when they let their 1, 3, and 5 year olds try beer! It was non-alcoholic though before you start thinking Kathrin and Daniel are risking their kids getting drunk. :)

Currently, I'm very tired. I think I was up too late yesterday given how exhausting the day was. So I do believe I'm going to figure out my agenda for the evening. I have another hour of work yet talking with Noemi to improve her English (she's the oldest) and dinner and then I think it's going to be an early bedtime for me. Tomorrow is a cleaning day (wash my sheets, vacuum the floor, clean the sink, mop my bathroom floor, etc.). Tonight however is probably rewatching Dr. Who and maybe cross stitching if I can keep my eyes straight.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How to see my pictures

Rather than give you a VERY image heavy post, check out my FLICKR for pictures. There aren't really any of the girls, unfortunately, as I don't yet have Kathrin's permission to post them. Sorry! Also, I'll try to remember to continue to update my flickr so if you're not facebook friends with me, you can check that out for photos whenever you check this out. :) The link is

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My first week in Germany

Well first of all you should know that I brought an adapter that didn't have enough holes in it so had to wait til today to get the grounder that Gramma sent me. It got here today though and I can FINALLY use my laptop. It's amazing the difference just having a working computer makes. My poor Artemis. She had a fine layer of dust on her when I pulled her out today. But she's plugged in to an adapter which is plugged into an adapter which is plugged into a power strip which is plugged into the wall. I wrote in my handwritten journal the other day so I'm basically going to copy that over here with slight additions and subtractions as necessary. :)

1 June 2012
Today's my third full day in Germany but basically my 5th day on my own. Let's start a few days before that though. My grad part was on what would've been my wedding day (5/26). Well my day was so much better like this. First off, I saw Ron on the 21st to get my stuff back. The boy I loved is gone and now I'm not the girl he loved either. I deserve better and I can see that now. Yes, he was my first love but it's as if I have someone else's memories. They don't feel like they really happened to me.
So Saturday was my grad party and I had a blast. I ignored my cell all day, got to see some family, a few very wonderful friends. It was just amazing to see people come out of their way just to see me before I went off. The generosity of my parental units in throwing this party was more than I expected. Sunday morning I went to church for the last time at my church for a while. I didn't expect it but as I went to leave, I started to cry. I mean I don't go often, I haven't been able to go often, but I've always had the chance and I've always known that it was there. And the guest pastor person (he wasn't listed as Rev. or Dr. in the program) quoted from a letter from the Civil War that made me cry. (Rather than post the whole thing here, I'll post a link. I highly encourage you to read it. This man's love for his wife and his country moved me. I spent the afternoon packing after getting my Kindle (Minerva) and having Starbucks with Jack before I got rather very tipsy at the Youngs with the parental units.

Monday morning began my 24+ hours of travel-most of which I was awake for. I had to check in and pay for my luggage, make it through the longest security line since Heathrow 3 years ago, and hope I had time to get coffee. Luckily, I made it through with time to spare. I got a bagel while I waited for my (late) flight. It hadn't really hit me until Sunday night (after I had sobered up) that I was leaving for another continent. Pathetic though it may be, it was realizing it was my last night with fuzz (my big purple blanket) that did it. I flew to Philadelphia where my flight was late again. Luckily I had plenty of time before my NEXT flight was set to take off so I wasn't worried and Minerva kept me entertained. (I was reading The Hunger Games.)
In Newark, I had to get my bags and schlep them around for a while. It took forever to get to the right terminal but luckily someone pointed out a free cart for me to use and people helped me find which train. The woman on the platform was so nice. She directed me to the train and then asked about my tattoo. When she realized it was from the Bible, she started saying things like "Oh praise Jesus." She acted like the stereotypical inner city black Christian-which she definitely was the last two. Once I FINALLY checked my luggage, I got to the right gate and found FOOD. I was starved (remember all I'd had was that bagel). With 4 hours to kill, I texted everyone and their brother, got some decaf coffee, devoured a smashburger, nearly killed Artemis' battery playing games (retrospect-bad idea), and made last phone calls. Then I waited. And waited. Our plane wasn't even at the gate til we were supposed to leave. Given that my Madrid layover was only 90 minutes, I was started to worry we wouldn't make it. Luckily, we made great time. The food was actually decent (some beef noodles for dinner and a warm croissant for breakfast). The seats were incredibly comfortable, I had a window, and the middle seat was free so it was just me by the window and a gentleman by the aisle. I watched The Princess Bride during dinner before I fell asleep. When I landed in Madrid, I almost panicked. I thought I had gone through security when I shouldn't have but I did exactly what I needed to. (I checked with a security guard.) So I went through security for the third time (Rochester, Newark, Madrid) and prayed they wouldn't stop me since I speak NO Spanish. I changed my shirt so I'd be more presentable (just another T-shirt) and got on my flight. When we landed in Dusseldorf, as I was getting my bags, I hear my name over the loudspeaker but didn't know what they'd said. I made my way, with my ridiculous bag, to information and asked. Daniel was going to be late. Okay. Well that sucks. So I sat down and waited again. I was so tired that when I went into the information office I didn't even TRY German. I just said "Hi, they called my name but I didn't hear what it said." After about 20 minutes Daniel, Noemi and Yael got there. Daniel took my suitcase which was awesome since the wheels barely work on it. We got the girls something to eat then got everyone a drink before we hit the road. At first I was awake enough to talk-with effort considering I was tired-and to pay attention to my surroundings. Then I started falling asleep. When we got home, I met Kathrin finally and Nuria.

I'm still treading this fine line between living here but sort of being a guest too. Like how I'm not yet OK with going in and out of the apartment, haven't ventured out alone yet, and can't raid their fridge. I'm sure I will soon but right now I'm afraid of getting lost. I don't want to step on any toes or intrude on their space. So when I leave in the evenings, I stay gone basically. I need to venture out and get some snacks, a laundry bag, and an alarm clock.

Tuesday, I pushed way past when I should've stayed up til 12am and then slept til 3:30pm! My iPod died overnight so I had no way to wake up.I've been better since though. Yesterday, Kathrin, Nuria, Yael, and I went out to do some of my paperwork and to get Yael underwear so she'll potty train. It was awesome to be out exploring. I think there's a farmer's market tomorrow that we're going to. Not totally sure though. I also met Frau Bobach yesterday. She's invited me out for Chinese to practice her English sometime.
My room is kind of like London-small but adequate. Bed. Night table. Lamp. Table. Wardrobe. Bookshelf with electric kettle. Sink. Toilet. HUGE window. My "own bathroom" in the cellar.

My hands are starting to hurt from typing so that brings us up through Friday night. I'll update more either later or tomorrow! Oh and pictures will come later too in their own post for those without FB.