Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We're Coming to America

The time has come! Time to visit family and friends! Time to celebrate American Christmas!
We are leaving for Oklahoma on December 5. I can't wait. I can not even wait. I can't wait to:

1. Eat mexican food. It's been a year since I've devoured chips and salsa.
2. Go to the movie theater. Yeah--it's been a year.
3. Not think about trash."But Blayne--that is NOT very 'green'." OH--whoops, I forgot to care!
4. Wear smaller clothes. Sizes run smaller here. I can't wait to feel thinner than I actually am!
5. Watch live television. Again--it's been a year.
6. Go to Wal-Mart at 3:00 a.m. Just because I can!
7. Speak english to everyone. My native tongue!
8. Go shopping! We spend a lot less money here because of the exchange rate. So, we have budgeted some obnoxious splurging for America.
9. See family and friends. It's been so long since I've seen everyone; I can't remember who I'm in a hugging relationship with. Guess I'll just have to hug out.
10. Friendly drivers, and a safe driving experience. (I feel like this speaks for itself).

But I'll miss Germany. It's home now.

1. The Schertl's. One day I'm going to do an entire blog dedicated to all the help the have given us. Brace yourselves now, because it will be a long blog.
2. Cafes. I've gotten really used to the part of the day where we "stop and have a coffee." Which for me ends up being at least twice.
3. Leisurely pace. I've also enjoyed the very, "take your time" lifestyle here.
4. Adult Beverages. Germany has excellent beer and wine. Excellent. And even a wine girl like myself can get on board with the beer here. Because it is indeed that good.
5. Bread. Nobody does bread like Germany. Nobody.
6. H&M. I love this clothing store. It's not new or anything--and USA has a few of them too, (nowhere close to where we'll be). Here they're everywhere. Inexpensive (sort of) and attractive.
7. The Schertl's (I'll mention them again)
8. Driving fast.
9. Our Home. I work pretty hard these days warding off lawlessness and disorder.  And I've made it so that I enjoy every space in our home. And, therefore, I am going to miss my space.
10. Old German Women--Old German women are always so warm, and kind (I'm not being sarcastic). They never ever speak english. A lot of the conversational German I've learned is from my routine encounters with these ladies:

German woman: To Ava: Oh! Kleine Maus! So suss! Du bist glucklich!" ("Oh! Little mouse! So sweet! You are happy!") 

Then they start asking me questions--in German. Whoops. So, I just listen for a few key words:

alt (old), Madchen (girl)

After I hear those words--I know they've asked me if she is a girl, and now they're wondering how old she is. SO--before they figure out I'm America, (they already have) I rattle off the following:

"Ja! Sie ist ein Madchen. Sie heist Ava. Sie ist neun monate alt." (Yes! She is a girl. Her name is Ava. She is nine months old)

Then they think, "Oh! Mommy speaks German!" (no she doesn't) and they start saying more things, and I smile, nod, and say "Ja" a lot. Then I say:

"Ja, sie ist sehr mude. Wir mussen gehen." (Yes, she is very sleepy. We must go.)

Works every time.

We can't wait to see you! Our calendar is relatively open, but we plan on spending a tremendous amount of time with family for sure. We'll be staying with my mom in El Reno, and then venturing to Norman and OKC, and a little bit to Tulsa.

So anyway, our flight leaves Nuremberg on Monday morning at 6:00 a.m. Then, after a grueling one million hours of travel--we'll be in Oklahoma at 4:30 p.m. (I might have overshot it with one million hours--but, somewhere around there). People are asking me if I'm worried about traveling with Ava. I'll answer that with a loud and proud "YES!" But, I'm just refusing to think about it. Because, it doesn't matter what I do, and it doesn't matter what happens on the plane--WE HAVE TO FLY WITH HER. She's too small to really "prepare" for. I can't just sit her in the seat and hand her a coloring book. So, I'm going to pack a few distracting toys, but I'll leave it at that. Hoping for the best.

But I'm sure our fellow passengers will just be SO excited to see her! "Oh! Yay! A baby is flying with us for 7 hours!" So...they've got that goin' for them...which is nice :)

We'll have traveled far...WITH a home...and WITH a star...SO, with that--Take it away Neil Diamond.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Germanniversary!

I'll be brief. You're welcome.

One year! We made it! Alive, and everything!

Moving to a brand new continent, in a different hemisphere, where you know no one, is not exactly like a party. But we did it! TAKE THAT ADVERSITY!

This year went by so fast.  I feel like we just got here. I feel like I just had Ava, two seconds ago. I feel like we are just now getting used to everything. But as the great Karen Carpenter would say: we've only just begun.

 I feel like now, after a year of being embarrassed by unknowingly breaking cultural norms, speaking the language incorrectly, making snap judgements and stereotyping, (I love to stereotype), I can speak with some authority on the following:

1. Autobahn
It's auto-awesome. When we first got here, I said it was no big deal (because we were traveling from the airport in a charter bus, safely at 70 mph.). Then after our first solo driving quest to IKEA, I said it was terrifying. Well friends, I'm back to change my mind again. It's great. Sure, we cruise between 90-110 mph; but so does everyone else! Some people go a whole lot faster. Honestly, it would be dangerous to go slower--you must keep up with the flow of traffic.

Sidenote: "Autobahn" is simply German for "highway." It's not a special road, or anything like that. 

2.  Luxury vehicles
There's not a lot to say about this. Most people drive a BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Except for us...Additionally, German mommies drive Luxury strollers. I'm not kidding here. I did a little research. Mostly because I was getting curious as to why all the strollers I saw around me, made my stroller look like a Lego toy. Let's just say, the cheaper model starts closer to $700.00. I have yet to see a someone with a different stroller; a non-luxury stroller...except for me.

3. Recycling
 Recycling is responsible. Recycling is necessary. It is disgusting how much we waste.

I hate recycling. I hate recycling so much, that I have actually turned down a purchase because I didn't want to have to deal with the recycling: "This is perfect! But look at the box it comes in....ugh...all the parts are in plastic wrap....are those plastic twist ties? Forget it." 
I do it because we have to. BUT--I will probably continue to do it when we return to the states. Because it's easy. America is spoiled like a pretty blonde girl when it comes to our recycling. Some nice man comes to pick up a container from your curb, once a week. Not here people. You take your own recycling to the recycling yard. You also must sort your recycling like so:

Aluminum: This must be sorted into foil and cans.
Glass: must be sorted into white, brown, and green.
Paper: must be sorted from cardboard, and regular paper.
Plastic: (This ones a doozy) sorted as follows: soft plastic, hard plastic, plastic lids, plastic cups, plastic bottles, "other" plastic, styrofoam, and styrofoam pieces.

I won't even get into the recycling of electronics, or household goods, or batteries.

Don't sort it wrong! There are German attendants working the bins to scold you...and they will scold you.

Additionally the recycling center has pretty limited hours. It's open a few days a week, for about three hours. So, all the stars must align for us to successfully get over to the recycling center.

And it's not like I can just throw things away in my dumpster. My dumpster is actually SMALLER than my kitchen trash can. The dumpster is taken away by the garbage man TWICE a month. So, I usually spend a lot of time getting creative with left over food. I weigh the pros and cons of throwing an item away. I stand on top of the trash in the dumpster to "smush" it down--to get more space. It's endless people. Anytime I have to use garbage space unexpectedly, I usually throw a little pity party for myself.

Enough "comblayning."

4."Kaffee und Kuchen"
Coffee and cake. It's everywhere. Usually enjoyed at a cute bistro table in the afternoon in home, cafes, inside grocery stores, I've even seen some at gas stations. One time I took Ava to the eye doctor, and inside the waiting room was "kaffee und kuchen." The German culture is very leisurely. In fact, if we were going to assign each country a personality, Germany would be the "party country." Beer, bread, brats, and good times! Good times to be had by all.

5. Dark Clothing and "Wilderness Chic"
I am the only person I have seen here who has a red coat. I stand out in a crowd, (hopefully only because of the coat). Also, everyone seems to be wearing Jack Wolfskin coats. Picture the Northface revolution; only on a larger, and more expensive scale. And, clearly I need to feel like I belong--so I want one.

Hans Martin and Gerlinde Schertl---and you're familiar with Ava.
Those are just a few of the differences  that I have made mental notes of. There are more, but you're falling asleep.

 This year God has given us a lot of blessings to be thankful for. We've made great friends, including the Schertl's, our German family, who have welcomed us so warmly into their home, and have shared so much with us. Steven came home safely from Afghanistan, (you're welcome America!) and we have a beautiful home, in an even more beautiful country...

OH! And we had a baby!

Last year we arrived in Germany the day before Thanksgiving. We made it to Frankfurt airport, and then took a bus three hours to the Rose Barracks--the military base in Vilseck. We were put in a perfectly nice hotel on base. Where we watched hilariously sub-standard military television. The DFAC (Dining FACility) on base, was hosting a Thanksgiving meal the next day. For some reason, I was really excited. I was still feeling really positive, and I don't think the new situation had truly dawned on me yet. On Thanksgiving day we slept in till 2:00 p.m. (thanks a lot, jet lag). Around 4:00 p.m. we walked--in the snow--from our hotel, to the DFAC for Thanksgiving dinner.

When we got there...

it was closed.

I started crying, (classic). The way you would cry if you had just missed Thanksgiving dinner, (and if you were seven months pregnant).

This year will be different. We'll have a full house to serve dry turkey, and over cooked casseroles to!


I am thankful that now, instead of crying over legitimately scary life changes and concerns; I can now cry over the little, trivial, superficial, everyday kind of things. :)

So I've got that going for me, which is nice.