Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Auntie Marie and Uncle Khiza

It all came together pretty last minute - but it came together! Marie and Khiza were able to come visit us for a long weekend after a short week in Spain and Northern Africa. Simon was giddy with excitement. Well, I guess he wasn't really anticipating the visit, but once they were here he was HAPPY. We had been practicing our new signs all week (yup - special signs for special visitors - come on over!) and he was happy to show them off.

I was happy too! Happy to have my sister visiting me here in Germany! Happy to see my bro-in-law. With our parents in MN, sisters on each coast and me in Germany, seeing anyone is a big deal. I had seen them in South Africa in June, but Martin hadn't seen either of them since we left the US over 1.5 years ago. Yay!

Drizzledorf lived up to its name, with almost nonstop rain. But we didn't let that stop us.

And we had plenty of time to be silly.

And even some adult time to just catch up, drink beer, and eat meat!

Khiza's name all over it!

Lena and Ti (Khiza's cousin that I have adopted as my own) made the trek over from Amsterdam to celebrate the year when they all turn 30.

I was happy to also give them a typically German experience. On their last night here we tried to go a candy store that sells just gummy candy. It was just about closing time, and the women was obviously getting ready to shut things down. She told me we could only come in if we knew exactly what we wanted and it would take less than a minute. I asked if we couldn't just look though real quickly - "NEIN" was her response. Got to love those friendly Germans. As we continued down the street, the clock finally tolled 7pm, indicating that the shop was indeed closed. Whatever happened to customer service people?

With that, they packed their bags and left on a jet plane. Don't know when I get to see them again, but am grateful for every chance I get.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


When I first ran out of cumin, I went to the store and purchased some kümmel. I used it to cook - but it was nasty. This was not cumin. Damn Germans, how on earth did they actually change a spice and make it so nasty. Only the Germans! So I learned to buy cumin at spice markets or have my in-laws bring it from Sweden. Seems ridiculous, right?

Well, I learned today that it's totally ridiculous because I was in fact buying ground caraway seeds, not cumin. Wondering how made that mistake, I looked the word cumin up on trusty leo, I found that cumin is in fact kreuzkümmel. Kümmel is caraway. AHA! I had probably written down kreuzkümmel on my grocery list that fateful day, but when I saw kümmel I just thought it was the same thing....Sometimes it takes a long time to learn the simplest thing!

(Thanks, Ilka, for clearing this one up for me!)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reflections on 2011

I looked back at my first blog post of 2011, and saw that I was going to try to be better about posting and updating my blog. I think I did an ok job, but there's still room for improvement. My goal for 2012 - 52 posts! Yup, about one post a week. I think I'm up for the challenge. Especially as I look back and see all the things I didn't blog about...

Like when Jim and Caroline Sallee came to visit us!

Or when my cousin Sarah, who I never get to see, was here...

Or when my mother-in-law was here in April...

Or when we went to Berlin and met up with our good friend (and fantastic artist!) Heba.

Or when my sister-in-law and niece came to visit and Simon was sick (fever 104F/40C) the whole time!

These were all not just blogworthy - but highlights!! Oh how I failed! But I will soldier on, friends.

Another thing really lacking in my blog is just simple reflections on my life in Germany. What is our life like here? What do we do? What are Germans like? If only my brain automatically updated this blog then it would be full. But I never seem to have (make) time to write about these things.

Did you know that we used cloth diapers? And the reason we stopped is because there are almost 70 stairs between me and my washer? Do you know how long a wash cycle takes here? Do you know we go to the farmer's market every Wednesday? That, many days, the Germans drive me nuts? And many days, they don't, they're so kind? Did you know that I now have a private German tutor? Well you should, and it's my fault you don't. I will try harder!

No doubt it's tough with an almost two-year-old nipping at your toes. But I can do better - and that's my promise for 2012.

Are there things you, dear reader, would like to know more about? I would be happy to take requests. That might, in fact, help jump start this lazy mama.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

God Jul!

We just returned from celebrating Christmas with Martin's family in Sweden. Of course not everyone looks forward to spending 8 days with the in-laws, where if you aren't careful, you can miss those few precious hours of daylight, and where, it seems, they eat nothing but pickled herring. May not sound that appealing, but let me tell you, darkness and herring aside, we had a fantabulous Christmas!!

All the cousins!
I think I can speak for both Martin and I when I say this is the most relaxed/well-rested that we have been in, about...hmmm....2 years! Yup, it was that good. There were days when I didn't even know what time Simon woke up, because by the time I got downstairs he was up and fed with diaper changed. He had 2 cousins to play with, along with his aunt and uncle and grandparents all taking advantage of the precious little time that we get to see each other.

Simon waiting in anticipation of Santa.

Simon long gone - scariest Santa ever!

In addition, I was not responsible for cooking, cleaning, planning - anything. I just didn't have anything I needed to do. I think this was the key to truly unwinding. Martin and I even went on a date. First we ate burgers (where we were the ONLY people eating with our hands - gotta love the Stockholm snobbery), and then we saw the Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I can whole-heartedly recommend. Precious to get some time to ourselves, not rushing home to pay the babysitter.

And now, we're back in Germany, back to the grind. Already trying to figure out what we're going to eat this week, setting up play dates, thinking of all that needs to get done. But for now, I am holding on to that feeling of rested and relaxed for just a little big longer...

(And yes, I know I am super lucky and have really great in-laws.) And here are the pics.