Saturday, August 3, 2013

Germany: Week One

Hello everyone!  First off, we have taken very few pictures since we have been here, so the pictures featured below are from the last year that I haven't posted during.  I will let you know when the pics are of the actual present.
Avram and I at Omaha Oktoberfest.  Worst schnitzel ever!
Anyway, we have arrived in Germany.  Actually, we have been here for a week.  We are in Western Germany, a few miles from the Netherlands border.  In fact, we drive in and out of the Netherlands all the time, without really noticing.  There is so much to tell!  First the similarties.  This part of the country looks a lot like Omaha: vast flat fields of corn or wheat and a few trees.  It isn't as humid here as it was in Omaha, but it has been hot here, which is more unbareable than when it is hot in Omaha, for one key reason - there is NO AIR CONDITIONING! More on that later.
Avram at Halloween.  He was a penguin, but his hood kept falling off or covering his eyes.
Other similarities - lots of white people.  It's always strange to me when I walk past a group of white people who aren't speaking English.  Why aren't they speaking English?  Only brown people don't speak English!  Is that racist?  Maybe, mostly just naive.
Avram with my grandma Bodily.  She past away in January. 
Another similarity - Same latitude as Juneau, Alaska.  As I sit here typing, it is 830 Greenwich Standard Time and the sun is shining like it's 500 or so.  The sun doesn't set until like 10.  But apparently in the winter it sets at like 4, so that's something to look forward to.
The picture that would have been on our Christmas card if I had ever gotten around to ordering them.

So the differences -
Something important to know about Germany:  they don't believe in artificially cooling anything.  What I mean by this is that they don't have air conditioning anywhere or ice cubes in drinks.  We had breakfast in the hotel this morning and the milk was a little warmer than luke warm.  It was awful! Ordering a drink at a restaurant?  Hope two ice cubes is enough.  They can't waste ice on things like drinks because they don't even waste energy on cooling their own bodies.  There are a lot of smelly people here.  I need those ice cubes too, because you see, they don't have Diet Coke here either.  If you want something that is 0 calories and has caffeine it is Coke Light.  So I need the ice cubes to water down the terrible taste of the stupid Coke Light!!! Maybe I am a snob...yes I am a snob, an American air conditioning and cup 1/2 full of ice cubes snob.
What! No Diet Coke?  Who will take care of me?
So we are still doing cloth diapers.  I was getting a lot of pressure from all sides to switch to paper diapers while we were homeless and getting our bearings abroad.  But I knew that if I went to disposables now, I might never go back to cloth, and I am committed to cloth!!!  But we made it,  we made it through 10 days at the Townplace Marriott in West Omaha, we made it through 3 weeks at my parents house, we made it through 12 hours on an airplane.  We did it!  (Sidenote:  I washed diapers several times at the hotels we have stayed in and I always have to go to great lengths to make the washers and dryers "safe" for the diapers.  I wonder if I should a put a note on the machines after I use them "Attention, baby poop was previously swished around in this washer, use at own risk).  Now here we are in Germany, staying in this little hotel next to the bus station, and it is time to do diapers.  I confidently make my way to the laundry room (which is located in the basement next to the sauna, because people need to sweat more here) with my bag of dirty diapers and 5 euro worth of coins.  I was prepared for the washers to be small.  I had heard all about it.  The drum probably holds a pairs of jeans and three t shirts (small washers - also not helping anyone smell any better).  But I had forgotten one thing:  I don't read or speak German.  Sometimes I can look a German word and decipher the English one.  Not this time.  So I put in my Euro and randomly spun the dial.  One hour later, I couldn't open the washer door.  Mike now does the laundry.

Avram's first candy: black licorice
We have had a lot of entertaining things happen here because of the language barrier.  Mike spent an hour or so the other night calling people on the phone trying to make appointments to see houses.  I sat in the bathtub reading and laughing silently to myself as I listened to his struggles.  Then yesterday we were trying to get gas, but when Mike went in to pay the cashier insisted that they "Had no gas" and "didn't sell gas".  Apparently here, they are trusting enough to let you pump first and then pay.  Also a landlord showed us a rental house and continually reiterated that the previous owner's dogs "made pee pee" all over the wood floors.  I don't attempt to speak German.  I would like to learn it, but previous attempts to learn languages have gone completely bust.  I took French, failed spectacularly, and found comfort in the fact that I would never be going to Europe anyway.  I am a little worried that I am going to forget how to speak English like a native English speaker.  I spend so much time uh-ing and err-ing in order to figure out how to simplify what I am saying that I fear I might just up sounding stupid all the time.
Avram on his first swing ride in Chadron, NE.

Avram is doing very well here.  In fact, he is the instigator of all conversations with Germans so far.  Well, Junior does too.  Here's a funny story. Junior has an ear infection.  We are treating it with drops and we are supposed to flush his ears out every few days with this stuff that looks and feels exactly like his earwax.  It's really gross and his ears smell a lot like old lady feet.  So anyway, we decided to go on a family walk through the business center of the village and find a bakery.  As we walk past a little restaurant a lady calls out in German "Cavalier!  Cavalier!"  which is Junior's breed.  She walks towards us and I can see that she wants to pet Junior, so I let the leash out and he goes to her.  She is talking the whole time,  we don't know if it is to us or to him, and scratching his back.  Then she goes for the ears.  I watch as she starts scratching him on the ears, stops, looks at her hand, scratches again, stops, looks at her hand, scratches one more time, then looks at her hand and with disgust on her face wipes it on her pants. Then we just turned and walked away.  There was nothing we could do.  We couldn't explain to her that it was just ear medication.  Sorry lady,  don't pet strange dogs of foreign people.
Avram meets his new cousin, Lizzy Joe.  It's not you, Lizzy, it's Av.

Anyway, Avram is adorable.  He is nearly walking.  We bought this thing that looks a bit like a wooden lawn mower that he pushed around the hotel room.  He can't turn around with it though because the wheels are locked in place, so once he gets to the end of the room, Mike or I goes and turns him around.  He is also still fascinated with cars and trucks.  Our room overlooks a train and bus station and he will just stand there for 15 minutes straight and watch the buses and taxis and people moving about.  He hates getting his diaper changed.  He will not lay still long enough to get the poop wiped off of his bum.  I have to wrench his legs and twist his hips as he arches his back and cranes his neck around.  It feels like abuse a little bit, but I know he would be more upset if he got poop in his mouth.  Maybe I should see about changing his diaper on the window ledge so he can watch the buses and have the threat of falling 20 feet to keep him still.

I was nervous about coming here.  I felt like I was moving to the moon.  I know a lot about the moon, how far away it is, that it's dusty and there is no gravity, but none of that helps me function or survive there.  Same with Germany.  I knew it was far from my home and family,  I knew they don't speak English, and that they eat delicious meats and breads, but none of that was going to help me survive.  None of that could provide me any comfort.  But it is not so bad here.  The people, so far as I have been able to understand them, have been nice.  Driving is not bad, in fact better that some places in America.  Avram is not going to be neglected or kidnapped.  We are all going to be fine and I am excited my anxiety is over and that I now able to start enjoying this new adventure.  Now if I could just get rid of this pesky jet lag.


PS - Here are the only pictures we have taken so far here.  We are in Sittard in the Netherlands.  It is a really cool town with a market in the square on Thursdays that I am hoping to attend next week.


  1. Love your posts. You have such a great perspective on life. We miss you guys! Avram is SO Cute! Keep the pictures coming....I don't think I can ever get enough!

  2. I read this when you posted, but I haven't commented yet! Bad! We miss you guys too, and can't wait to see you at Christmas.

    It is kind of incredible that you guys are there! We think about you and talk about you frequently. We should Skype sometime soon!