Saturday, November 12, 2016

Just the details of life...

So, I've been debating what to put in the next post or if I have enough material to even write a post.  Nothing particularly spectacular or exciting has happened, but I've said from the beginning that I wanted this blog to be a true reflection of what life's like, so here's what that is right now.  {And after typing up a rather long post, it turns out I had plenty of material!}

That introduction sounded ominous, but really it's not.  It's just daily life.  Which just got a little harder since Matthew left and will be gone for over 2 weeks.  This mostly feels normal. After all, our family is used to one parent or the other being gone on a regular basis.  But usually not this long. Or in Europe. There's a little voice inside my head that keeps thinking "Oh my gosh, I'm alone with my kids in EUROPE!" So far, I've been able to keep that voice in an excited tone of wonder and not a voice of fear. :)

But it's definitely not always easy to adjust. We knew this and are prepared for things to be difficult at times. And I know that the true culture shock is still yet to come. So, right now, I'm choosing to stay focused on the beauty of our surroundings, the fun differences of Europe, and the incredible opportunity we have here.  I'd rather share the beautiful pictures.  Like this one of a little boy who decides he hates to walk about 10 steps after leaving the house every day. And sometimes sits down and refuses to go any further. But this time he found a rock to sit on and looked so cute.

So, what are we doing?  A lot of grocery shopping.  Seriously.  This takes a long time and many, many trips per week.  We walk to the store and buy what we can carry. I have a large back pack as well as cloth shopping bags. The boys also take their back packs.  The stores do not give you bags - you bring your own and you buy for a few days at a time. I find that I like this.  There's less waste. Even once we get a car, I think it will be easier to just walk....while the kids are in school.

My black grocery backpack sitting on our entry shoe bench.  In Germany, you take off your shoes when you enter a home. 

Where do we shop? Definitely not a super store! There are general grocery stores that contain what you would expect - produce, frozen foods, dry goods, milk, cheese, some meat.  These are perhaps a 10th of the size of a Kroger/Publix, though. Then there are butcher shops, fish shops, bakeries, produce markets, general/convenience stores which sell things like cleaning supplies, soaps, lotion, etc, specialty health food stores, and pharmacies (which just sell medicine). There is a good grocery a few blocks from our house.  I have found it carries a little of everything including some cleaning supplies and meat, but there is better selection if you go to the correct store.

Our time spent grocery shopping is further compounded by Brandtley's gluten free diet. The grocery selection of gluten free options is roughly equivalent to what I'd expect to find in the States, so long as you know where to look. I've found a health food store that has a good selection of certified gluten free pasta, oats, grains, and even good GF bread. But as a specialty store, we don't buy all of our groceries there (it doesn't sell everything a full grocery would) and it's a bit further to walk to.  So we only make a special trip there when we need those things. However, we must make sure that all sauces, spices, canned goods, packaged-goods of any kind do not even contain traces of gluten or even have been processed in a facility that contains gluten, so any item that does not state "gluten frei" or "ohne gluten" on the label must be examined. We would be doing the same thing in the States only now the labels must be translated.  Thank goodness for Google Translate and German Celiac apps!  Unfortunately, this means a grocery trip for 2 days worth of food will take several hours.  And I've made at least 12 shopping trips in 2 weeks here!

Side note on the groceries: produce here is great! So are the potato chips. :)  I was never a big potato chip connoisseur in the US, so these flavors could be sitting on the shelf at Korger and I not know about it.  It seems so European, though, to have Balsamic or Rosemary or Oregano chips!  They are DELICIOUS!

Some of what I bought today - isn't the clementine cute with its little stem & leaves?? The brown bottle is local, full-cream milk. So good!

Several people have asked about Jackson's school and if he has started yet.  We've found a school with an opening in his class that is not too far from our home.  Now that our immigration registration is complete, and we have taken residence in our apartment, we can register him for school. We will meet with the Principal on Monday to start that process, and find out the next steps then.  I know he will need a health check up (similar to the well check up required for school in the U.S., but he needs one by a German doctor), but we can't schedule the appointment until he is registered.  Our agent said that he may be able to begin attending prior to his health check up.  We will see.

Other updates:

Our furniture is in Germany and is currently going through customs. We have a delivery date of Friday! Yay!  I asked if we could get it sooner, but the moving company has to get a permit to park & unload on our street since it is narrow and the city requires the permit be requested a week in advance. So the moving company requested it on Friday for the following Friday, 18 Nov.  We are so ready for a couch and a kitchen table!!! :)

We found a car!!  It is a few hours north of us at a small car dealership.  Matthew took the train there and test drove it the day before he left.  We then paid for it and are waiting for the paperwork to go through so that we can insure it, then register it before taking possession.  I will register it on Tuesday then take the train with the kids to get it and drive it back. Fingers crossed on getting there and driving it back with the kids. I'll post pics once we get it... assuming I get it back in one piece. haha! It's a good thing I'm not allowed to take it until the insurance is in place!

Speaking of the kids, they are both starting to go stir crazy and get on each others' nerves. And on my nerves.  Hopefully they will both be in school soon, though I know that will jumpstart the next emotional rollercoaster of German immersion for us all.

Working on our German. Jackson received a German For Children package for his birthday and we're working through it together. 

I found a kindergarten (preschool) down the street from us that has an opening.  I've submitted an application for Brandtley, but there are 2 other children on a waiting list ahead of him.  It is very hard to find an opening for a child his age mid-year, but persistence is key.

Last but not least, I have a cell phone!!!  If you know me, anything cell phone or technology related is a major point of frustration even in English. Since Matthew's gone, I'm summoning all brain power and patience to tackle setting this up on my own. The only alternative, though is waiting another two weeks.  I'm going to be brave...And I'll keep you updated!

It looks exactly the same but now I get a cool European outlet plug 


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