Thursday, September 30, 2010

1st Road Trip

Less than 24 hours after our car arrived, we packed up for our first road trip- Grafenwoehr. Graf what? you might ask- It is the closest military base about 4 hours away. A place to stock up on all our favorites from home!

I rode on the German Autobahn for the first time and lets just say, the next time, I will be the one driving! Seriously, when you get to speeds like this in the picture, kids in tow, cars passing you like you are standing still, it will make your heart beat so fast it might jump out of your chest! I think I was in the early stages of a panic attack, though, my husband was having a blast on his thrill ride. Thankfully, on our return trip it was raining and there were speed limits! We did however, get passed by a hearse!
We stopped about an hour away from Graf at a rest stop for the Toilette and Burger King. Crazy thing was? No lie we had to pay 70 cents each to use the bathroom! Paying for the bathroom was indeed a first, but it was also a very clean public restroom. The toilets even had an arm that came up and washed the seat with hot water after you flushed! Sorry, didn't have my camera in the bathroom for pics, but I will most certainly be bringing it next time!
Off to Burger King, I haven't had BK since I was in college, but it was pretty decent. The kids are loving the kids meals here because they get to pick out the toy. Good news at BK is they credited us 50 cents each for our Toilette ticket?! So, I suppose the paying for the bathroom isn't COMPLETELY outrageous.
We stocked our pantry for the next few months with many things-here is a sampling-
Cheddar Cheese - can't find in Berlin
Chocolate Chips - can't find in Berlin
Jimmy Dean Sausage - a must for sausage balls
Lil Smokies
Ziploc Bags - OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive
Charmin - I seriously think the TP here is in the cardboard family
Salad Dressing
Bush's Baked Beans
Cap'n Crunch Cereal

Stocked with some comfort foods of home, now if we can only get the rest of our comforts from home!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

We are driving in Berlin

Yes, our car arrived today! 3 weeks and a day after we arrived, our little piece of home made it's way to us! If it's at all possible, I think, Carter was the most excited of all of us. It will be another month or so before we get our Fuel Ration Card that deducts all the outrageous German Taxes-so, we spent what was once our monthly gas allowance for 2 cars in the states on ONE stop at the Esso (Exxon) station! UGH...that hurt! Seriously, 100 euro (~$135) for 17 gallons of gas! Carter will be excited to find out we might still be taking the bus everywhere at the that rate?!
I thought driving in German would be just like driving in America since they, too, drive on the right side-not so fast.
-I have yet to see a single stop sign?! I'm not sure if they exist or not. The alternative is a yield, if you get to an intersection with another car the car on the right gets the right of way?
-When you turn you have to watch for bikes because they have their own lane as well. Which during the day time might not be as much of a problem, but this evening-I did in fact cause a cyclist to slam on the brakes-oops!
-The stop lights are not above the intersection, but a light on the right and left just above eye level.
-Green, Yellow, then Red? NO- Red, Yellow, Green, Yellow, Red
-Don't Block the Box-doesn't exist either-because there are special additional lights for the cars stuck in the intersection? This is definitely the weirdest thing for me.

Excited to explore the city and country by bus, train, and CAR over the next 2 years!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Strong and Courageous

It was my first time out in the city with the kids in tow and me, not a lick of German. I was excited because I had only been here a week and found an English Speaking Women's Bible Study that I could take the kids too. So, I mapped out my route and got the kids out the door in plenty of time to make our first bus.
We walked outside only to find it raining, decision time-am I setting myself up for huge failure here or am I to press on? Well, I hesitated a bit, but after spending an hour getting us all set, I didn't really want to turn back, plus I felt like God was testing me just a bit. So, I asked the kids if they wanted to walk to the bus in the rain, afterall, if they weren't up for it, it probably would be a disaster. Carter resounding "yes" and Abby in her typical agreeable self said, "sure."
Praying all the way to the bus stop, I knew that God would enable me to be patient with the rain, after all He sent it. First bus, almost 20 minutes late, NOT typical, but we made it on and just in time to make the second. We rode on a BLUE double decker so Carter was ecstatic. So, it's barely 9:30 am and I've already made the little guys day, anything else is just icing on the cake! I must say getting off the bus with our stroller is quite tricky. We had a semi-tragic crash getting out, but thankfully the bystanders felt inclined to help me! Thinking even if the car arrives soon, we might have to invest in a different type of stroller.

We MADE it and just 2 minutes late!
When I arrived I was met with open arms and smiling faces! The kids had a huge playroom and a super sweet lady who played with them in the room next door to the study. As I sat down and introduced myself to the group of super sweet ladies, I could hear the kids laughing next door, just the affirmation I needed-thank you Jesus for giving me the strength to follow through. We then opened up to Joshua 1- Be Strong and Courageous-just what I needed to hear, crazy how God gives you just what you need, exactly when you need it.
Feeling, confident and ambitious, despite being naptime, the kids and I ventured to a nearby mall! The mall had a fresh fruit stand, small grocery store, meat shop with wursts, that was just the beginning-could be a future one stop shop for us! After all, we did visit our mall in VA about once a week maybe this will replace it? I managed to get the kids some Happy Meals from McDonald's and me a smoothie. We walked around a little, but not without first hitting up one of the many fresh bakeries. 1 Raspberry Fruit Tart- I asked for a 'fork' that particular lady didn't speak English so I motioned like I was eating and she picked up what I was trying to say. We made it home, kids to bed, and I alone with my delicious fruit tart-a perfect present for a fabulous day!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lessons 2 weeks in Germany

Some random things I've learned while being in Germany:
- No matter how hard you try by skipping naps, taking naps, etc. it will take 3 year olds a week to get over jetlag
- Pack pillows in your Air Freight- the airplane like pillows they give you are only suitable for a night or two
- Germans are serious about recycling, I am not as of yet
- it costs more to call cell phones than landlines in Germany
- it's cheaper to buy a prepaid cell phone than a contract with a plan
- dogs are treated better than kids in some places
- They really do sell beer and brats just about everywhere
- packing your own groceries isn't so bad, but transporting them on a bus isn't so fun
- the standard darking/privacy blinds look odd, but are great for making the kids think it's no longer/not quite yet a 'beautiful day'
- what I call 'camping' is only fun for a few days - using only 4 plates, 3 (one broke) cups, dull knives, and 3 pots to cook everything
- groceries seem to come in much smaller packaging
- at some point during the day, it will probably at least sprinkle, if not rain
-hiking involves ski poles, though the ground is flat?
-despite the way the wheels are turned-all grocery carts slide from side to side
-the bus near our house has yet to be on time
-yet to meet a 3 year old (besides my own) that's not in preschool/childcare at least 4 days a week
-asking for water at a restaurant will either get you sparking water or no water at all

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Grocery Shopping Trip

A little overwhelmed at first because I had to make a deposit to get a grocery cart? But, it makes sense and now I'm aware for the future. The kids were given bananas from one of the produce ladies-probably because she knew it was going to take us awhile to make our way through the store-she didn't want to have the kids go hungry!
Some things on our grocery list consisted of Williams staples-fruit, chicken nuggets, ravioli, Cheerios, tortilla chips, bagels, Philadelphia cream cheese, potatoes, spaghetti, milk, cheese slices, Heinz ketchup (which tastes NOTHING like ketchup to me, but thank the Lord the kids haven't notice any difference yet!), applesauce.
Some new favorites we found Crust Less Bread (my personal favorite), Leibniz Minis, Nutella, some sort of Wurst that D picked out!
Things I learned- I'm not going to find cheddar cheese, BBQ sauce that's not really ketchup, nor taco seasoning that tastes like real TACO seasoning. But, the 3-4 hour roadtrip to the comm/PX trip will happen the weekend our car arrives! No doubt, I will be one of those customers w/ 3+ carts!

Labor Day in Berlin

After many months of telling Carter there were a plethura of trains in "Germee" we followed through with another train ride. It's the 2nd in only 3 days and the number of "Thomas" bus trips (double decker like Bertie) are too many to count, needless to say he is thoroughly enjoying the present means of transportation. He wakes up saying, "lets go ride something!"
We took the train to IKEA and got some much needed household items while we await for our HHE to arrive, hopefully soon. We ate dinner at the train station and again that was a big hit for the little guy.
It was a productive day in my mind-got my new cell phone! Nothing super fancy, but one more step in feeling like this place is home.
Top Priority now is INTERNET!  We have a temporary fix for now, but no uploading photos,skyping or loading any page w/ multiple pictures or videos-so pictures will come in time.