you can tell that spring is not far off in germany. dotted amongst the cold blistery days are the occasional warmer ones. flower shops are full of daffodils and my favorite flower, tulips!
i am constantly comparing the prices of the u.s. to the prices here, but the one thing that you can find much, much cheaper in deutschland is flowers! the last few weeks i have made it a point to fill the house with tulips and it doesn't cost much to do so.
a wonderful event that is coming up is the opening of the keukenhof gardens. i have never seen so many amazing colors in my life. there are over 4.5 million tulips at keukenhof, and it is the most photographed place in the entire world! needless to say that me and my camera will be going, along with a friend who will be visiting from the u.s. i can't wait!
yesterday was nicht so gut! there were parts of the day that weren't that bad, but overall it was a straight up a german day. i really mean no disrespect to germans or the country as a whole, just the really grumpy, bad tempered mean people that i encountered yesterday!
im trying to show my mom germany and my daily life and i guess that she really got a taste of it.
the weather does not help with my mood here! yesterday was gray! gray sky, gray buildings...really just flat out gray. it wasn't a good day to sight see but a good day to get some errands done...lipstick, my mom needed lipstick. i personally don't understand why she needed to buy the lipstick in germany as opposed to the u.s., but she did. so she asked a simple question, "dena, where do you buy your lipstick?" "america" was my response. i then tried to explain to her that i really, really tried to avoid buying anything in germany. i feel frustrated when i can't communicate with the sales clerk, i feel frustrated because you can't just run out to one store and get your groceries and lipstick, and i feel amazingly frustrated when i know that i can get the same thing for half of the cost at home. it's an effort and lately i seem to be avoiding anything that is too much of an effort--oh that's not good, is it???? well as we walked thru the department store, low and behold....there was revlon lipstick. score one for the american!
so, we get on the train to head home, and i quickly explain to my mom that she needs to be a bit more "aggressive" and not just step aside when someone pushes by her, but stand her ground. you would think that i was sending her off to tackle mt. everest, not just taking a twenty minute train ride. it was on the train that i really took a look around. the people seemed grey yesterday as well. there is no ideal chit-chat, no smiles, no happiness. oh, this is nicht so gut!
what worried me the most was that my least favorite errand was the one that i had saved for last. yep, my expat friends know...the post office. now, i had really had it yesterday, so no one was going to get to me in the post office. my guard was up as i spoke with the man behind the counter. i didn't even pretend that i spoke german, i went straight to the "sprechen sie englisch?" he did and he was very, very helpful. maybe the day was getting brighter. then i heard it..."ugh, sigh, ugh". the lady behind me seemed to be in a very big hurry and had to have something really wrong that she had to continually click her tongue in annoyance. well, little did she know that i was done. i did a full body turn and stared her down, just as many german's had been known to do to me. she didn't look away, but she did stop with the hurried drama. possibly another win for the american?
as i went to sleep last night i really tried to not think of the grey, but the bright points of my day. spending time with my mom, lunch with a friend, an enormous bouquet of bright tulips and a fun night full of great conversation with friends.
as grey as it can be here, i try to remember that i would have gray days anywhere that i may live. in germany, i just have to make sure that i wear my full body armor when i go out for the day.
that is today's question, for my sherpa is headed to the u.s. for a business trip!
when i got married, i knew my husband would be my friend, my lover, my partner, the father of my children, but my sherpa? fast forward 17 years and this is what it has come to!
i used to hate it when jeffery had to leave. now i am constantly asking, "so, when are you headed to the states?" i can honestly say that i would be thrilled if there where 2 trips in one month. oh can you imagine, it would be like christmas!
as jeffery packed this morning i began to question him...did he really needed to take his running shoes? they took up some much needed room in that suitcase. room that was needed for ranch dressing, pace picante sauce and peanut butter! not just any peanut butter, jif peanut butter!
so each of us gave jeffery our wish list today; ben wants his cheetos. oliver his cheeze its, and me; onion powder, peanut butter, ranch and brown sugar, truvia, and magazines in english.
has it really come to this? i used to get wonderful bottles of perfume or jewelry when he came home from a business trip, now i get brown sugar and ranch...really? i hate to say it, but yes it has. it is amazing the things you miss when you don't have them, and after all you can't make cookies with perfume and when the smell and taste of a chocolate chip cookie give your kids some comfort of home i would most definitely give up that perfume.
so my question to you is, what would you wish for?
i hear this a lot. i'm pretty sure most of my expat friends hear this a lot as well. we do travel a lot, it's the light at the end of our tunnel, the thing we look forward to.
our day to day lives can get a bit boring. most of us can't work in our host country. some of us don't speak the language well enough to take classes. it can get very frustrating, so we plan. we plan trips.
my day often consists of traveling to numerous grocery stores to find the 10 items on my list. then possibly a trip to the post office, where my 9 year old has a better chance of getting across-in german-what i am trying to say then i do. so i have to have something to look forward to.
so a common question we ask each other is "where are you spending_________?" fill in the blank with one of the many breaks that the kids have. you can ask any of us what airline has discounted flights to cairo, or is it better to drive or take the train to austria and we can tell you.
we are really blessed to be so close to so many amazing things. we are driving distance to most places in europe and my goal is to see as many of these locations as i can in the unknown time my family is here.
i do wonder at what age my kids will actually appreciate what they have seen? when ben is 40, will he want to take his kids to italy to see the mona lisa? will oliver tell his family about the anne frank house when his kids are reading about it in school? right now it just seems like "another old thing" that they are having to see, but i do believe that one day they will actually appreciate all of this.
what an amazing winter break we had in australia! oliver spent his 9th bday with family, we all got some sun and relaxation and my sister-in-law pushed me to finally "blog" our experiences! thanks gina!
western australia is really the "wild, wild west." there are creatures that live there that you would never want to know about. shark attacks, snake bites, kangaroos that if cornered will attack you. why the hell even go outside?
we have been to australia 5 or 6 times over the years and let it be known that my children have NEVER stepped foot into the ocean! if my fear is not from the stories my father-in-law tells me about men being drug from knee deep water, and eaten whole by a great white as their children watched, it's the threat of those damn jelly fish that are the size of your thumb nail but will kill you before you can reach the beach! in the past they had always been content to build sand castles on the beach, but not this year.
on the 20 hour plane ride-yes that's right 20 hour-down under, i explained to everyone, including jeffery, to not ask if the kids could go in the ocean. under no circumstances were they swimming in the death pool. maybe they were too tired, but they all seemed okay with my decision...that was until the boogie boards came out and there cousins went in.
as i starred at there faces, disappointment written all over them, i decided to talk to the lifeguard-good excuse huh? mr. lifeguard was really cute, under his goofy hat and zinc covered nose. he proceeded to inform me that there hadn't been a shark sighting off of his beach all year! well it was january 2nd and i really didn't want to ask if he meant season, or calendar year as i was pretty sure he thought i was an idiot anyway. he also told me that the reason the helicopter was flying back and forth was to spot for sharks. so they are out there!!
how ever much i hated it, i had to let them go in. i just decided jeffery had to go in with them :) turns out, everybody made it out in one piece, except for a few jelly fish stings-not the deadly kind-but this trip made me realize once again...i am not in control of anything. statistically my kids had a better chance of getting hit on the head by a coconut then ever encountering a shark, i have a better chance of getting in a car accident then ever being in a plane crash, and at the end of it all we have moved our kids half way around the world for the experiences that they will have. what kind of parent would i be if i didn't let them have those experiences?
i had heard from my husband and friends how magical the holiday season is in germany. it was so much fun to experience for myself. my first, and second, and maybe third gluwein. my first reibekuchen-the most amazing potato fritter ever! and a truly amazing time for your senses. the sights, the smells and the tastes are magical!
this is one of the most difficult places for me to go in germany, the market. for the first few weeks i would often have to go with someone; my hubby, a friend, there were days where i very easily could have taken an english speaking stranger if i could have found one!
germany is not known for it's food and it is very difficult to cook a meal when you can't even read a label to know what you are cooking! the pig hoofs above are from one of our first trips to the market. imagine my boys faces when the saw "babe's" feet at the butcher's counter.
now german food is very fresh. there are almost no preservatives added. this can be good and bad...especially to an american. it means no bulk shopping, cleaning out your fridge every 2 days and the occasional feather in your eggs!
after discussing with oliver why there were only 10 eggs and not 12??? anyone know the answer, please let me know, i had to explain the feather. "mom, why is there a feather on the eggs?" "well oliver, they are really fresh and sometimes the farmer doesn't get all of the feathers off of the eggs." "doesn't the chicken wipe his butt before he lays the eggs mom?" out of the mouths of babes!
i am still amazed that we have only been in europe for 4 months and have experienced so many amazing things. everytime i miss my daily life in america, i try so hard to remember that we have seen so much; madonna and child, amazing cathedrals, anne frank's house, the eiffel tower and so much more...i guess target can wait!