Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buesum, and a new place to live

Yesterday the bf and I returned from a 4-day trip to the North Sea coast (specifically a town called Buesum) to celebrate our anniversary. We stayed at a cute little family owned place (Hotel Siegfried) not far from the city center or the shore. It was lovely, although it rained a little everyday except one. The first day we strolled along the shore, where we were harassed by birds. Evidently they had chosen the rocks on the path as a nesting place, which we discovered upon seeing two adorable babies--- we then left the path and the birds in peace as quickly as possible.
The next day the weather was pretty wet in the morning, so we decided to visit the much heard about indoor swimming pool. It was fantastic! The largest pool was a salt-water pool which had waves every 30 minutes or so. There was also a giant water slide, which we went down at least 5 times, a few heated pools and a jacuzzi. Very nice. Upstairs was the sauna, which we visited since we planned to stay most of the day in this pool wonderland (the weather was so uncooperative for hiking or biking). The thing about the sauna is... it's mandatory to be nude (with a towel of course). There's no option to have a swimsuit on or such, and there are signs and employees every so often who will politely remind you to get naked. ??? A little weird, but since there were also signs asking you not to sweat on the seats (what?) it was pretty much required to have a towel- I had two (they were kinda small). The sauna was soooo nice. There were 4 saunas, one at 90 degrees (194 f), one at 85 (185 f) which was on the roof, a 70 degree one (158f) which had fennel and anise/aniseed, and a 50 degree (122 f) one. There was also a steam bath, which had a big salt quartz in the middle. We tried all of them except the 90 degree one, since we thought the 85 was warm enough, and after an hour or so, we had had enough of the sauna.
The next day the weather was lovely, and we had planned to spend the day biking, but unfortunately I spent the night and most of the day suffering a stomach virus or food poisoning, and stayed in the room until about 6 p.m. when I finally felt well enough to go to dinner, the bf did hike a while, but he was sweet and felt bad about me being alone.
Yesterday after we got back we met with a guy about an apartment we saw in the neighboring town. It's not the city where the bf originally planned to live, but it does have about 6,000 inhabitants, and there's easy/cheap train connections to a few bigger cities. After talking to the guy again the bf is taking the apartment! yay! It's pretty nice, and it even has a washer and refrigerator, which is almost unheard of in small apartments here. It's on the third floor, with lovely big windows, and they are even redoing the floor this week (the only thing we didn't like was the hideous blue carpeting, so they are putting in normal fake-wood laminate). He's putting down the deposit and getting his key on Friday, and on the first he's moving in! Exciting.
I'll put up some picture from our trip soon, I have to work though, since I've had 4 days off, and the family and I are headed to Denmark for vacation on Saturday for a week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Random Updates, Patience and Gardening

Today the weather is beeeeautiful- warm and not too humid. The bf arrived last night. He's registering up here (you have to register every time you move (or plan to), so the government can trace your every move here. lol.). This morning he left early to catch a ride with Mrs. A on her way to work, and hopefully he gets everything figured out- and can get the *perfect* apartment we found :). Yesterday I finally got my work visa. *yay* so I can legally stay until 14th of June 2010. Although I believe I will actually be headed back at the end of May... we'll see. It feels nice to be "legal."
They say "Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead." Ok, by "they," I mean Mac McCleary, although I, myself, admire the patience of ALL drivers on the road when I am learning to drive a manual. Since I was lucky (or unlucky) enough to have only driven automatics for the last 8 years (besides the occasional few times... which were hilarious), I am finally going through the painfully embarrassing process of learning at the ripe age of 24. The bf and I practiced a little in a parking lot behind his house a month or so back, and now I've driven two times here in Gnutz. First I drove to and from the Kindergarten with Mrs. A to pick up the little one- it's only like half a mile away and the car died 3 times... although it was coming out of reverse, and after a stop. ooops.. Yesterday I got to drive back from the library in the neighboring town, about 3 miles away. This time the car died at like every stop, of which there are about 3, and of course, I had to stop at a light on an incline, and the young woman driving behind me (in a flashy convertible, mind you) *had* to pull up sooooo close to me- my biggest fear of driving a stick was coming to life- I nearly wet myself, but I did manage to stay somewhat calm (for the sake of the child. lol). I took Mrs. A's advice and used the hand brake, inadvertently squealed the tires, but managed not to do any damage to her car or "ours", so overall I consider it a win... Mrs. A is very patient with me killing the engine, squealing tires, grinding gears and mostly driving 15 mph under the speed limit. I need to practice a lot more.

I have three plants I got a few weeks back, 2 Gerber daisies and some other mini-tree like thing (that's the scientific name b y the way). I thought one of the daisies was a goner, the poor thing was all wilted. But after researching them online, I read that if may be outgrowing the pot and not getting water to the middle roots. Needless to go into detail I nursed the poor thing back to health and now it seems to be thriving. I do need to get them new homes soon (pots I mean, I'm not giving these badboys away, they're like pets). Anyhoo--- I will post pictures of the pretty little things soon. I think that's all that's new.
Oh, speaking of lovely weather- this was kinda funny:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Prancing through mainstreet

Bragging is not an attractive trait, but let's be honest. A man who catches a big fish doesn't go home through an alley (according to the genius Ann Landers). Speaking of which, I like to read Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, and Dear Margo in my free-time. I think at the least I might learn some etiquette. Now onto bragging. I finished my first puzzle this week (I started it a few days after coming here, so it's been about 3 weeks of work). O.k., probably not my first, because I've surely completed numerous kiddie puzzles of 50 or less pieces, and I may have chipped in on larger puzzles that were a group-effort. But I have never done a puzzle all on my own- until now. (Note to all: I am very boring, and when I am winding down after a day with the kids I have turned to puzzling). So, as proof I am posting a picture of it. 1000 pieces. Seriously, I'm pretty stoked- despite this probably not being a very hip accomplishment- don't judge, yo.
Santorini, Greece.


The Foundation of All

Once again opening with a quote. "This is the foundation of all. We are not to imagine or suppose, but to discover, what nature does or may be made to do."
-Francis Bacon
Sunday the family and I took a day trip to the botanical gardens at Kiel University, which was also hosting a butterfly exhibit. We had a lot of fun, and I thought I would post a few of the hundreds of pictures I took (not joking, I took just over 300).
Jean Anouilh, "Beauty is one of the rare things that do not lead to doubt of God."

Teach me, Father, how to go
Softly as the grasses grow;
Hush my soul to meet the shock
Of the wild world as a rock;
But my spirit, propt with power,
Make as simple as a flower.
Let the dry heart fill its cup,
Like a poppy looking up;
Let life lightly wear her crown,
Like a poppy looking down,
When its heart is filled with dew,
And its life begins anew.
-Edwin Markham

Monday, July 13, 2009

From the mouths of babes

Maybe I'm behind the band-wagon on this (since she was on Britain's Got Talent a few years ago), but this little girl is amazing. Connie Talbot.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Red Rabbit

This is just brilliant. It's by Egmont Mayer, a German animator.
Interpret it as you will...

Red Rabbit from Egmont Mayer on Vimeo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Kindergarten Caberet

Today we went to the little one's Kindergarten recital, which opened with a song by the whole class, and continued with group performances by the older children who are "graduating" and will be attending the 1st grade in the fall. (Here Kindergarten is attended for 2 to 3 years, a bit like a pre-school and kindergarten together). Now, I was expecting some cute"Itsy, Bitsy Spider" and "Row, Row, Row your boat" stuff, but this recital was hip, if not a bit more mature than I had anticipated (don't get me wrong, it was entertaining, but quite unexpected.)

The opening song. Cute kids, and all.

So, the first song starts out sweet enough, with a group of little ones dancing to something to the gist of "You are my star," while twirling stars on batons and all that jazz. The next song picks things up a notch with "Ugo and the Girls" lip-syncing and dancing to some German hit. Open on a boy sitting facing the crowd with dark shades and a flashy mic, with a girl on each side in a short (strapless, Hawaiian print) pink dress, matching sunglasses and necklaces. The girls dance around him the whole song, ending by each throwing a leg up on his chair. A bit much? Perhaps, but not quite enough for my to get my camera back out for, but the next song motivated me and I didn't put it away again. Yes, I've got proof of the story I tell. Following to the next song... "Die Perry's" (that's The Perry's for all you non-German speakers, not a death prompt) singing "I kissed a Girl." No joke. Complete with black leggings, Katy Perry Tank tops, matching hats and face glitter and make-up. Wow, luckily at that age no one really understands the words, but they know the title, so I still think it's pushing it. What next? The 3 year-olds performing a Diapered Caberet? Just saying...
yeah, these are 5 and 6 year olds.

Next song is 3 boys, performing the German/Hip Hop version of "Forever Young" (not kidding, it's "Fuer Immer Jung" the translation is easy). This was frankly adorable, with one boy "rapping" and the other "singing" the slow chorus, and one keeping beat on the "drums," but I caught at least 6 curse words, and I'm not a native speaker, so there couls have been more. Isn't that something the sound guy should've caught? Have they never heard of the "Clean Version" of a recording. Shessh. And these were German curse words, not English, so all the kiddies understood them. Yep. Now I have a somewhat dirty mouth, and kids are bound to hear stufft, I just expected it to not be from a song in an organized recital. lol.
Here's pics of the cool guys though:

The last group "The Snuffkins" were dressed as bunnies (or a similar cuddly animal) and accompanied by their stuffed animals while singing "I love you" ("Ich hab dich lieb"). Nothing wrong here, sooooo adorable, and maybe only slightly sickening. lol


All in all, I had fun and it was soooo entertaining, but I just don't think it would fly in the states. But hey, maybe if our recitals were more like this, more people would attend (the mayor's wife attended, and she doesn't have a kindergartener... how's that for attendance and entertainment?)


Last shot of the great kiddos.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Apartment searching and public scratching

Sorry I haven't written in... a few days (What a flake!), you know I have been working and all that jazz. I tell myself I will turn on the computer when I have a chance and actually write something, but I end up falling asleep... or skyping with the bf for-ever and then falling asleep. Jees, where are my priorities? (Probably asleep somewhere). Today I went for a bike-ride during the hour that is wasn't on-and-off raining. The weather here is so indecisive. It'll be warm and sunny, so I'll change into shorts and a tank top to go pick up the little one from Kindergarten, but as soon as I arrive at the school (via bike mind you... yes, this is a true story), it starts raining and I end up peddling like the wind only to arrive home soaked. Then it promptly stops raining; prompting the little angel to step "dry" out of the tag-along... (or whatever the kiddie pull wagon things that attach to the back of the bike and weigh like a gazillion pounds are called) and ask why I'm "sweaty." Not sweaty darling, SOAKED. Then she wants to play outside, what the heck? It's sunny again. So I uncover the sandbox, spread out a blanket, change into a dry pair of shorts (mind you I only have 2 pairs here) and low and behold... drip drip drop... it begins to rain again. Sheeesh, so I run everything back in the house, and struggle to quickly cover the sand box to prevent it form becoming a mud-box.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, went for a bike-ride then came home, took a quick shower and promptly fell asleep... in my bed where I did not put the mosquito net back in place (since I leave it pulled back during the day). And what happened? I woke up with 4 mosquito bites. My window wasn't even open! I swear the little buggers are camped out in my room somewhere, and wait for me to fall asleep, cause I never see or hear them. I also imagine they only plan attacks on days when I am meeting with a Realtor to check out apartments for the bf. So once again I find myself sneaking in the occasional (and hopefully not too obvious) scratch while checking out apartments. I really love one of the apartments, and the other is ok too (I mean, I really only will be visiting the bf, so he gets the final say... I finally conceded). Oh, so there's the bf on skype again... gotta run.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

California, Nudity and Apple Pie

Yesterday we took a family trip to the beach. Which one you ask? California (or Kalifornien as it is spelled here), which happens to be right next to Brazil. The Germans have simplified vacationing by placing two popular, and usually far apart destinations right next to each other. Mrs. A (the mom/my "boss") claimed the English are responsible for this, dating back to the post-war period, but I'm not convinced, as it seems like just the sort of sneakily efficient thing Germans would do to make travel easier (I can see the travel ads now: "Vacation in California, then Brazil! Cutting out all inefficient travel time and costs! From only 49 Euro a night...). Anyhoo, the weather was lovely (80s I think) and I mostly laid out and read (like any good Au Pair should right?) The boy wanted me to go in the water, but man, it was COLD. I tried, really I did, but my californian upbringing did not prepare to swim in ice water. I am not a polar bear. Besides, he had a friend there anyhow, and they promptly forgot about my chickening out. All in all it was very nice.

Oh, did you know people here get naked on the beach. No, not like a nude-optional, or topless beach; this is just your everyday, run of the mill, kids and families and old people spending the day at the beach. Then I notice people taking off their clothes, changing into their swimwear... no towels, or attemtps at coverage. And guess what? No one cares. I mean, back home women would faint, mothers would cover their child's eyes and shriek in horror. Here, ah naked dude at 2 o'clock? Whatever. Grammy shimmying into here flowered one-piece? No biggie. Well, let's just say I got a couple eye-fulls. My naked, harry old dude butt quota has been filled- probably for life. My boyfriend (who happens to be German too) explained to me (after I excitedly called him to giggle about the naked people I saw... yes, I often behave in a manner befitting that of an 11 year-old boy) that it is normal, and while many people do not change on the beach, no one really cares if others do. Interesting, I think, and while I don't think I will be baring it all anytime soon, it's nice to know the option is out there... in case I ever find myself at the beach, needing to change with no bathroom or towel in sight.

Oh, Happy 4th of July all you Amis (cute nickname for Americans, which also happens to be the French word for friend- Ami. No, I didn't make it up; honestly,I'm just not that frigging adorable/creative). Feeling a tinge of patriotism (OK, I admit I was pretty bored too) I decided to introduce the family to a particularly tasty piece of American culture- apple pie. So I made the dough from scratch (which turned out somewhat chewy and not at all flaky and how I think I remember it should be... oh well) and did the apple-peeling, slicing, thing. They don't have any pie pans like I'm used to (the family I mean; Germany may have them- I honestly don't know) so I ended up using some sort of casserole-like dish. All in all, it looked funny (oblong and not round) but tasted yummy, albeit chewy. Yay for apple pie for making me feel a little closer to home.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Laments of Dawn

Here it is- 5 am and I have been up for half and hour. Do I have a good reason for this? Am I an avid bird watcher, or have I taken on a second job as a baker or milk delivery-person? Or are one of the children sick, do you ask? No, alas, I am plagued, terror-stricken if you will, by something horrible; no, I do not mean the current state of affairs in Iran or even the US and world economy. Yes, Mosquitoes are my current affliction. Last night I finally got a mosquito net put up over my bed, so not only am I protected from future late night attacks, but I find myself inadvertently dreaming of safaris in the African wild, and unwittingly entrapped during any late night attempts to the Loo. However, alas, the damage has already been inflicted by many a night spent unprotected; 13- yes, I counted them; (at 4:30 in the morning there isn't much else to do) 13 mosquito-bites currently cover my unsubstantial form. To further aggravate matters, an annoying, but hardly life-threatening, allergy to mosquitoes causes the bites to swell in size until they resemble a welt reminiscent of a home-run hit baseball smashing through the stands and into the pudgy flesh of an unsuspecting fan. All this, the day before I am due to meet with a Realtor to see a prospective apartment here in North Germany for Mathias. Hopefully I will not find myself publicly scratching in a most unbecoming manner.
this is my super-cool bed with the much needed mosquito netting. No kidding. I sleep here.

In an attempt to alleviate my suffering and get some sleep, I found myself turning to the internet, yet again, for deliverance (good, but scary movie by the way). So long after the bites have become cortisone-resistant, I am seeking alternative methods of relief. Luckily, I found this site: (the tip nut is quickly becoming as important a source of information in my times of need as Wikipedia has been for years), and am currently experimenting with various suggested remedies. Toothpaste normally works for me, but to my dismay I was on a particular bout of healthiness when I bought my current brand of all natural, organic tooth-gel, which apparently lacks the synthetic, itch-reliving properties of your everyday garden variety paste; or so it seems. It works great on my teeth still though. Deodorant was my second attempt, and once again I think my consumer choices have lead to my demise, because my extra-frilly, smells like aloe and leaves your pits moisturized, stick is giving me no help. Vick's Vapor-rub is up currently and the relief is subtle, yet I have high hopes for it still (probably because I am running out of possibilities in my room, and have no desire to venture 2 floors down in search of Epsom salt, meat tenderizer or baking soda).
All this and I've wasted an hour of possible sleep time, although I haven't scratched once (granted, it's hard to scratch and type at the same time). Perhaps I can get another hour of sleep yet....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

weather: hot and gay?

So, I just brought the little one to kindergarten (via bike), and when I got back I was sweating. How does this happen? I mean, it isn't a strenuous ride... I'll tell you: humidity. It's abut 69 degrees (or 20 Celsius) with very little wind and a humidity of 1022 hPa- and it's 8:30 in the morning. Now, I have no idea what hPa is, but I do know as soon as I step outside I feel like I've just finished an incredibly strenuous yoga session... sweaty and tired. And I am about to partake in my almost-daily morning bike ride, which I know will leave me feeling energized, but finding motivation in this humidity is tough.
Oh, so you want to know where the "hot and gay" weather thing comes in. No, I wasn't just trying to broaden my scope of readers by luring in people casually searching "hot and gay" on Google; however, if you did so come across here- welcome. I was looking up the weather on (Germany's version of, or so I presume, although one would expect it to end in .de ... some things are better left unquestioned). So, laying here sweating in my underwear in my 3rd floor room, with the fan on full blast, I began casually reading the weather, when to my surprise, I saw that the weather today will be hot and gay... What?! I declard in surprise. Upon closer examination I noticed two small dots over the U in Schwul, making it Schwül rather. Curious, I then headed to (only the coolest online translation site ever... if you only care about translating english, spanish, or french into german- of course) and discovered that Schwül is humid (something I vaguely remember hearing in the past, but never paid such close attention to. I mean, who am I to judge? Perhaps, I figured, gay was a hip new term for the weather; I mean in English one can hear it used 100 times a day on a High School campus- never once actually pertaining to someone who's enjoying a particular bout of Happiness, or who happens to be homosexual). Evidently those two dots (umlauts if you will) make a BIG difference. As to the pronunciation, I am not completely confident, especially since a few days ago, when out of the blue, the 9 year old says to me: "No, it's "ooooo" with umlauts" after I apparently mispronounced something- as I'm sure I often do. So, I think I will simply stick to saying the weather is feucht (as in clammy or damp), so as to keep myself out of any unnecessary embarrassment.
Now I'm off- to brave this clammy weather for a long, hopefully enjoyable ride.

view from my third floor room
just for fun, this is a picture of the view from my bedroom. And yes, it is a lot hotter that it looks. Don't be fooled by the pretty blue sky.