Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally Some Progress Made

Gerrit finds mommy's "House Shoes".

Gerard *tried* to go to work today, but didn't actually get any work done. The plan was for him to take a colleague with him to test drive the car we've been eyeing and see about purchasing it if it was still available. Well, we got the car. It's a Toyota Picnic - a bit of a cross between a mini van and station wagon... very mommy oriented. It's still substantially smaller than any station wagon or mini van you'd find in the U.S. even though it's on the larger side of most vehicles here. It seats seven (two in front, three in middle, and two in back). The back two seats can either be folded down or removed when not in use. We wanted a vehicle that would accomodate us and our two boys with some extra room for either the dogs when we travel, or for visitors since we're hoping to have plenty of visitors while we're here (hint hint). We have to leave the car with the dealer for the next few days while we take care of getting it registered and getting insurance to drive it.
Our New Toyota Picnic

Filling Up the Gas Tank (Note the cost of gas here-60 Euro
for 43 Liters is $83 for 12 gallons. That's $7 per Gallon. Ouch!)

When Gerard got back to work after the car purchase, he drove to Neufahrn to drop off our application for the house rental. The agent phoned the owner, who requested to see the dogs before making any further decisions. Although I've seen some larger dogs around town, most of the dogs I've seen in rentals have been small dogs... so I was a bit nervous about our how our dogs would be viewed by her. Of course, anyone who knows our dogs knows that they are very friendly but not always the calmest or "best behaved." So, after telling the agent and owner that our dogs would be no trouble we had to ensure success. Our meeting was at 4pm so took the dogs to a nearby forest in Garching and let them run around off-leash for a while.
Exercising the dogs along the path in the forest.

When the dogs were good and tired out, or at least calmer, we packed everyone in the car and headed to meet the owner. She is an older lady who lives on the premises. There are actually three houses joined together in all, and she occupies one of them. She has a little dog of her own - 14 years old. She seems extremely dog friendly and didn't mind our dogs, or the size, or even if they barked from time to time. The owner met us, our dogs, and Gerrit and after reviewing our paperwork one last time she seemed satisfied enough to agree to rent us the property. Hooray! We're no longer homeless. Officially, the property is not supposed to be ready until October 1st, but she said she would begin the lease on September 15th and we could move in this weekend if we wish. Of course... we have no furniture yet as the contents of our Altadena house are on a shipping container in the middle of the Atlantic right now. We were told to expect 45-60 days from departure, which was September 1st. I figure if we're lucky our furniture will arrive the same time baby #2 does. Yikes!

We have an air mattress that should arrive in our air shipment in a day or so. In that same shipment we also packed a ton of baby items (just in case he comes early) and some additional toys for Gerrit. There is an IKEA nearby and we can buy a few pots, pans, and dishes to tide us over until our stuff arrives, but it won't exactly be the most pleasant experience sitting in an empty house. Still, it looks like we'll have it and can move in gradually over the next month, while Francoise continues to allow us to stay here in the meantime. Yeah!... we can actually check two things off our never-ending list of things to do.

As I mentioned before, the house location is not ideal but will do, particularly since it was quite difficult getting any substantial rental leads. I imagine it will take a bit of work to find things to do with the kids that far out, and I suspect I will traveling to the city often if I want more activities. As a native Southern Californian used to being able to hop in a car and get anything I want or need within about a 10 minute drive at most, this will take some getting used to.

The house has a very small grassy rectangular backyard that is approximately 25 feet by 60 feet. (Note that this yard is still larger than most yards out here.) It reminds me of a townhouse. We will have a small one car garage and a covered car port. The interior of the house is three stories and a basement floor. As you enter, you have a guest bathroom, a tiny (and I mean super tiny) kitchen, and a living room with small attached dining area. The second floor of the house contains a full bathroom and the bedrooms (one master, one small bedroom, and one small bonus room attached to the master bedroom). We will likely start out using the attached bonus room as the boys' room and the front room as an office (later reversing the two). The very top floor is one large room we currently plan to use as a guest room. So you see... we've already been planning on your visit (hint hint). The basement floor houses rooms for storage, hobby (likely more storage for us), and a laundry room. The total liveable space (excluding the basement floor) is about 140 square meters (approximately 1500 square feet) which is almost a third larger than our current home in Altadena.

Front View of House
Kitchen (Entire Size) - The far right cabinet is really the fridge (think college dorm size)
Living Room
Bonus Room Attached to Master Bedroom

We've been busy with many things this last week, but I can tell I'm really missing L.A. and La Canada. I keep working out the time change in my head - it's 12:45 right now, so the kids are just finishing lunch and will be headed back to the classroom soon. It's the second week of school and I wonder how everyone out there is getting settled into their routines. I keep wondering what my class would have been like and what entertaining personalities I may have had this year. Right now I'm really REALLY missing teaching and my colleagues. I realize that this is an adventure and I should be enjoying it - which I'm sure I'll do. But for now, even with all we have going on to get settled here, I can't help but wish I was back in Los Angeles in my classroom teaching and seeing my colleagues every day. Though I appreciate the opportunity to experience this european adventure with my kids free of work responsibilities, It feels *really* weird not to be there teaching each day.


At September 10, 2007 at 1:50 PM , Blogger Greg said...

Got to tell you...that is an awesome house. You were lucky to find something like that one. And come winter, you will be VERY happy about the garage.


At September 10, 2007 at 4:34 PM , Blogger Anastasia L said...

I agree - the house looks adorable. The living room is gorgeous. The kitchen is definitely bizarre; A2 always told me about the tiny fridges, but it still seems weird. I hope there's a convenient grocery store nearby for frequent trips!

At September 10, 2007 at 7:20 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Steph - excellent on finding a home. It looks quite nice and peaceful. And so what if there's a bunch of Turks there. You'll eventually get used to their fezzes and their tiny motor cars.

Wait . . . that's the Shriners. Nevermind.

At September 11, 2007 at 7:35 AM , Blogger vicki suraci said...

i like the looks of the house, hope my room is ready by the time i get ther! just kidding...the car is nice also. are you sure gerard was right about the cost of thliving there, everything seems astronomical to me! $7 gallon of gas!!! Is there public transportation you would try using into the city? talk to you soon mom

At September 12, 2007 at 3:31 AM , Blogger Steph said...

to Vicki-

Yes, there is public transportation that I can use and I will likely do so whenever possible. Having said that, though, I do think that the cost of gas here is likely truly reflective of the actual cost of fuel. But if these prices were listed in the U.S., people would flip out.

At September 15, 2007 at 9:40 PM , Blogger wendi said...

i am liking the house!!! it is adorable :)

as for school...dont miss it too much.


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