Friday, September 28, 2007

Back On-Line

Family Photo
Woo Hoo! We're back online. We now have phone and internet set up so I can post and talk to people more regularly. YAH!!! I will send an email with the contact info. If for some you don't receive it, let me know. So here's what has happened this week.


I spent the morning putting together various pieces of IKEA furniture and playing with Gerrit. We now have a wardrobe for our guest room (hint, hint). I had a lunch date with Liesel and her three kids. I really like Liesel, and it’s nice to know someone else that feels a bit like I do about things right now… unsettled, apprehensive, but wanting to be supportive. I feel a bit of a kindred spirit there. It’s also just amazing to see her handle her kids. I’m in awe of how calm she always remains. She has a six year old son and two year old twins (a son and daughter). I’m wondering how I’m going to handle two and she’s handling three during this whole move.

Of course we had our nightly visit to the IKEA to get a few more things. I finally had my first exchange in German. It’s only taken me what…. three weeks to do that? I finally remembered enough German to not only ask if the person spoke English, but to also say that I don’t speak German, and then go on to ask in German “Where is….” and then point to the item in the catalog I was looking for. Yes, I know it’s a really lame accomplishment, but right now it’s all about baby steps for me. I’ve been really klutzy and extremely forgetful during this pregnancy, so finally being able to remember any German whatsoever is a big step for me.

Building an IKEA changing table. It's finally too much
for me to bend down and change Gerrit on the bed.


Today, I’ve been pissed all day. It’s one of those days, really. Perhaps it’s partially pregnancy related mixed in with the move. In either case, I’ve just been really down and pissy today. First off, we still have no cell phone plan. Instead, we have a handy phone that has prepaid minutes on it we’ve been using out of desperation. The problem is that I’m having a heck of a time calling out on this phone. If I actually had to get a hold of Gerard in an emergency, I would be hard pressed to do so, as it seems hit or miss if my calls ever go through, despite always dialing the same number.

Secondly, today is trash day… well, for at least one of the recycling/trash collections. Remember that there are three days that get picked up- black waste trash (non-recyclables), yellow trash (plastics, containers, cans, etc.), and brown trash (biological recyclable materials). Paper and glass you take to bins located throughout the city. Today was brown trash day, but I couldn’t figure out where our brown bins are located. We are supposed to share the brown and black bins with the entire building, but our landlady never told us where they were kept. They only come every two weeks, so keeping this trash for a month does not appeal to me. The smell will become overwhelming. We have also tried to get outdoor trashcans to house this stuff until the pick up days, but it appears as though people don’t actually use such trash cans so we’ve been unable to purchase any so far. Third, we still haven’t received our licenses so I can’t drive. So now you say, well take the train or walk. That sounds easier than it is right now. I did some of that in Garching and even here in Neufahrn, but at this stage in the pregnancy, carrying the extra 40 pounds as I push Gerrit around or carry him definitely takes its toll. My feet and ankles are almost always swollen now after walking or standing for any length of time. I do try to get out now and then, but mostly it’s been rainy and icky so I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors trying to entertain Gerrit. I feel trapped waiting for Gerard to get home so he can help with Gerrit and we can run errands.

Running errands seems like a constant need for me and a constant source of annoyance to Gerard. Again, I’m nesting so I am forever making “to do” lists- buy appliances, get lighting (currently only wires sticking out of the walls and ceilings here), cleaning supplies, wardrobes (no closets), etc. The employees at IKEA have commented to Gerard that we are there everyday. Another huge source of agitation for me is the fact that Gerard insisted we sell many of our lighting, fans, and small appliances, etc. back home at our garage sale rather than storing them in our shed until we return. I understand that either way we would have to purchase new items here since many things were not compatible. But I do not see a need to sell things back home when we could have stored them, only to turn around and have to buy them again once we return… particularly when we’ve had to fork out so much money to buy new things here that we won’t be able to take back with us.

Buying Lights from OBI.

I’m also irritated that we have yet to get a regular phone or internet connection. I know it takes time, but it’s still an annoyance to me. I like being able to stay in contact with people, even if only through email. I think I may have located an internet café nearby, but it’s a bit of trek to get there and I’m not sure about bringing Gerrit with me. Needless to say, right now I’m still feeling quite isolated, which only contributes to my overall negative mindset. I’m trying to be positive overall, but some days are just worse than others. On those days, every thing no matter how “little” seems to be a BIG deal to me.

When Gerard finally called today, I asked him to call Destene (the gal I met from German class). Since I couldn’t seem to get through to her on the handy phone, I wanted him to have her call me back. Destene and I agreed to explore around a bit before she had to pick her kids up from school. We found the internet cafes but didn’t actually go in to see how much it cost, library, Mother Center, and English Nursery School. I did go into the nursery school to inquire about their classes. As I suspected, it is set up very similarly to the one in Garching, which isn’t exactly developmentally appropriate for Gerrit. To make matters worse, not only is the curriculum at each place is similar, the school here in Neufahrn does not separate by age, so kids are anywhere from 2 to 6 in each class. Hmm… not impressed. I think out of desperation I may send Gerrit to something like this only if I have to while I’m German class. Otherwise, I’m still searching and will also try out some play groups. I will check out the German kinder care group (I think this may be a preschool program for 2-3 year olds) and a Tagesmutter (Day Mother- like in home day care) for the days I’m in class myself. Perhaps the Day Mother will take both kids, as that has been another problem I’m discovering.

I stopped at Destene’s house to post something earlier today. She showed me around her house, including her storage room. An entire wall in her storage room contains shelving from ceiling to floor of pantry items – dry goods, canned goods, toothpaste, soap, etc. She brought everything over from the U.S. that she thought she might want to have while here and might be unable to get in Germany. My mouth literally dropped open and I began salivating. I saw things I’ve already included on my “wish list” of comfort foods, yet my list became three times larger after viewing her pantry. A few of these items can be found at some grocery stores in their international food section, but you have to pay SIX EURO for an item that would normally cost you 88 CENTS in the U.S. Yes, yes, I know there are some things here that may be just as good, but there is something to be said for your comfort foods, especially now. So here you go…. Anyone planning to send care packages or visit us anytime soon… this is what we would like:

Cereals- Cheerios (tons for Gerrit), Rice/Corn Chex, Life, Honey Nut Cheerios, Peanut Butter Crunch.

Crackers/Cookies- Goldfish “Baby” Crackers (tons for Gerrit), Graham Crackers, Oreos

Various Baking items: chocolate chips, Bisquick, brown sugar, Crisco

Muffin Mixes- Blueberry, Banana Bread

Dried Bread Crumbs

Boxed Mixes- Cake Mix & Frostings, Brownie Mix, Cookie Mix

Sauces- Worcestershire Sauce, Chinese Marinade

Condensed Soups- Various “Cream of” chicken, mushroom, celery, onion

Lipton’s Dry Soup Mixes (for marinades)- Beefy Onion, Cheesy Garlic, etc. (any & all are welcome)

Enchilada Sauce/Taco Seasoning

Kraft Mac & Cheese

Chili Con Carne (Dennisons or Hormel)

Oatmeal (Regular Cook & Serve AND Maple/Brown Sugar Instant packages)

Boxed Pancake Mix & Syrup (Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, or Mrs. Butterworth)

Instant Puddings (vanilla & chocolate)

Gerber Toddler Meals- especially spaghetti, lasagna, ravioli, etc.

Toothpaste (Arm & Hammer Tartar Control – NOT peroxide)

Antipersperant (Arm & Hammer)

Okay, so tomorrow the phone man is scheduled to come again, and Friday the DSL connection is supposed to be set up. I’m hoping this time they actually show up. I think being able to contact people via email or skype will go a LONG WAY in maintaining my sanity.

I still don’t “get” the lot of Bavarian Rules that seem to be “understood” by Bavarians but aren’t actually written down anywhere. It makes it difficult to determine what is actually a German Law or just a local Bavarian Way. Such as… washing your own car. This is not done. At first I thought this was just a law among the list of unacceptable things to do on a Sunday (no lawn mowing, no vacuuming, no hammering, etc). It appears, however, that you are NEVER supposed to wash your own car in a driveway or on the street. Instead, you must take it to a car wash. I also thought that you were not supposed to put out your laundry ONLY on Sundays. I have since been informed that in Bavaria, you are never supposed to hang out your laundry. I have no clue how people actually get their clothes dry here considering several people do not actually have dryers. Now perhaps you can find communities of younger people who don’t necessarily adhere to these rules, but I’ve been informed that if your neighbors are older Bavarians, it will be very frowned upon and you won’t be making many friends if you do these things. Bizarre!

I met another valuable resource today. Her name is Abbie and she’s sort of the head of the English-speaking welcoming committee here. The Bavarian International School established a committee for their students’ parents. This committee has since expanded to include non-BIS families new to the community. Their purpose is to support families and provide information such as local doctors, emergency numbers, parent/child support groups. They also organize a few events for meeting people. Abbie is from the U.K. and has a six year old who attends BIS and a five month old at home with her.

Now that we have a phone I spent part of the afternoon trying to contact doctors. My first priority is a pediatrician. Tonight we have dinner with Kaspar’s dad, step-mom, and brothers. Gerard tells me that Christoph is like a slightly older version of Kaspar so this oughtta be a hoot.

Just got back from Christoph & Susana’s house. As stated, Gerard’s assessment of Christoph is pretty accurate. We had a pleasant evening and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Their boys, Mangus & Rafael look like mini versions of Kaspar with a little Susana mixed in. Gerrit very much enjoyed their company, and I think the boys got a kick out of having Gerrit there, too. Maybe we’ll be able to get together from time to time.

Rafael & Magnus (mini Kaspars)
Susana & Rafael
Gerrit & Magnus


At September 28, 2007 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Anastasia L said...

Love all the pics! Sorry you had a pissy day - I know how that feels. :) It's fun to hear about all the different customs/rules; keep 'em coming!


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