Welcome to our life!

Hi, I'm Allison! I'm a thirtysomething, freshly baked, stay-at-home mom. I'm originally from Connecticut, now living in Germany, hence the name of the blog. I live in southern Germany with my German husband and our baby boy. Life has turned out to be nothing I ever expected, and am so incredibly happy with it! We certainly do have a lot of laughs! I hope you will enjoy following our new experiences raising a little half American/ half German in a little German town.

Donnerstag, 31. Mai 2007

The art of compromise

We have been discussing our June plans for months now, and it had come down to the following:
June 2- wedding in Cologne (4 hours from here)
June 9th & 10th - Venice for our anniversary
June 11th- my birthday
June 15th- cocktail party for International Women´s Club

Although it doesn´t seem so bad, poor Joern seemed to have a breakdown about a week ago, and decided that he desperately needs a vacation- NOW! He has been basically working 2 jobs for months now. The past few weeks he has been "spacey," and we both agreed it´s time for him to return to earth!

We played around with the existing schedule, gave up on a few plans, and added a few more. Here are our finalized plans for the month of June.

This upcoming weekend- no wedding. This made me sad, but I understand that 8 hours round trip is very long for people we aren´t that close with.

Next week- June 7th, the Feast of Corpus Christi, is a holiday in some German states (ours included.) I will go to work with Joern on Wednesday, he has planned to visit customers on the Swiss border. When the work day is done, we´ll drive to Joern´s friend Fabio´s house near St. Moritz, and stay there for the night. On Thursday morning, we´ll head out for Milan, which is about 2 hours from St. Moritz. After haning around the really, really, ridiculously good-looking Milanese, we´ll head out to somewhere near Venice. On Friday and Saturday, we´ll spend time exploring Venice and its environs, while remembering to savor wonderful wine and food, and to leave plenty of romantic time to celebrate our 6th anniversary! Not sure if we´ll head back Saturday or Sunday.

The following week- Joern will work Monday though Thursday. Friday the 15th, at 6:00 am, our plane takes off for Mallorca! Since we´ve already been, we decided that we won´t need to spend a week there. We´ll be there from Friday the 15th until Tuesday the 19th. We´re both so excited!!

I gave up the wedding, and the cocktail party. But I feel like I got a lot more because of it. Our original plan to Venice was an overnight trip, but now, we can have a much more leisurely trip! Plus, I guess it was worth giving up a cocktail party to spend a couple of days in my favorite place ever! Hopefully, the change of scenery and the Meditteranean pace will help Joern!

Montag, 28. Mai 2007

Happy Birthday Jörn!!!!

Yesterday was Jörn's birthday, and I just wanted to wish him yet another "Happy Birthday!"
This year was the first year that we didn't hold a big birthday event. We just had some steaks and salads with Jörn's parents, Marcel, Fabio (who was here for the weekend,) and us. Very small, but very nice. I made Jörn's favorite cake, a Paula Deen caramel cake. It was yummy!
We were fortunate that today was a holiday, so Jörn could enjoy his birthday without having to worry about going to work the next day!
Now, we have our anniversary and my birthday to look forward to! Yeah!

Oh, and I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day!

Samstag, 26. Mai 2007

Crazy week!

My week started off fairly normal. On Tuesday, I went to work with Joern, and then went over to my friend Mandy´s house to pick up a bunch of packages that arrived for me. Yeah! It was like Christmas, I had ordered a bunch of books from Amazon including travel guides for Croatia and Venice, and season 9 of Frasier! I also got my photo book from Ireland, and I my dresses from JCrew finally arrived. I love packages!
I was going to spend Wednesday at home working on laundry that I had built up in anticipation of Frasier. Thursday, I was going to go to Frankfurt for the day to meet up with a girl I met on The Nest.com, who like me, is an American married to a German. I was excited about Thursday for many, many reasons, including the fact that I had a two hour train ride in each direction to enjoy my new book, The Other Boleyn Sister.

Imagine my surprise then on Wednesday morning at 8:15 am when the phone rang, and the secretary from the International School was on the line. Turned out they need a sub for the day, and needed me there ASAP. I am truly thankful for the job, but not really all that happy with changes in my routine. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity, left the laundry for yet another day, and was driven (chauffeured?) to work.

The day went well. I was subbing for the assistant in one of the two first grade classes. The only odd part was that both the classroom teacher and the assistant were out for the day, so two subs had charge of 20 six year olds, on "dress crazy day." In my perfect world, no one would ever hold something so distracting to little ones as "dress crazy day." Oh well. The kids were adorable though. I also got the opportunity to work for a little while with the pre-kindergarteners. That was when I found out that either I need to spend more time with them, or I am simply not a pre-K teacher!

Overall, my day was wonderful, and the next great surprise came at the end of Wednesday, when the secretary requested that I work Thursday and Friday as well. Again, little me, I jumped at the opportunity, although sadly, it meant missing my day with my new friend. I spent the rest of the week with the first graders, which I really enjoyed, as it gave me time to really get to know the kids. I want to take all of them home now :)

I hope that my hard work and flexibility pays off and I can get a job next school year. I really like the school, love the kids (minus pre-K) and wouldn't mind making a little money on a regular basis!

This is a long weekend here too. We don't have much planned, not even for Joern's birthday. Poor Joern just needs some time to relax, so I hope that this weekend is helpful to him!

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I hope that the weather is good, and that everyone can enjoy some time outside. And I hope that this is the beginning of a great summer for everyone!

Sonntag, 20. Mai 2007

Our weekend

This weekend, Joern, Marcel, and I went to Switzerland to visit a friend Joern`s friend Fabio. Joern, Marcel, and Fabio all grew up together, and Fabio has recently moved. I think he is missing Neckartailfingen, and the Neckartailfingen gang is missing him.
So, Friday morning, Joern, Marcel, and I all piled in the car to go to work with Joern. Tee hee hee, I guess that`s really a perk of Joern`s job. His region extends all the way to the Swiss border. All Joern did was to plan to visit his customers lying along the border, and then continue on to Fabio.
The Swiss border with Germany lies along Lake Constance, which is a beautiful place in itself. The lake is quite large, and is bordered by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

Looking back at Germany from the Swiss side of Lake Constance
Joern finished his workday around 3, and after Marcel bought out McDonald`s, we headed towards the border. After our passports were checked, we had to stop and buy our vignette, a sticker that shows you`ve paid the tax to drive on the Swiss autobahns. The great thing about Switzerland is that not long after entering the country, you are met with beautiful views of the Alps.

An hour from the border, Joern brought up the fact that we would be stopping at his favorite rest stop ever, Heidiland. No joke!

Turns out that Johanna Spyri actually set her famous story of Heidi in this certain area of the Swiss Alps. Obviously, some people in this area were quick to jump on the marketing bandwagon with Heidi, and now besides the Heidiland rest stop, there is a Heidi Village (Heididorf) inclusive of Heidi`s House, a "Heidi Experience" walking tour, and another "Heidi and Peter" experience. Wild! Of course, it was enough for us just to buy gas and go to the bathroom.

About an hour`s drive past Heidiland, we exited the Autobahn at Bivio, a medieval trading town, which is part of the canton (or county,) of Graubuenden. Graubunden is well known not only for a destination for winter sports enthusiasts, but also for a dried beef specialty. We saw many buildings along the narrow streets of Bivio that advertised this Grabuendener meat.

Beyond Bivio lay the Julier Pass, one of the steep winding streets that Europeans (Germans especially,) love to use to feel like a racecar driver flying through the Alps. A positive about a pass is that they provide much better views than the Autobahn. Of course, to reach St. Moritz, one must either be wealthy and fly a private jet in to the funny little airport, or use the Julier Pass. This road winds its way high into the Alps, and reaches 7, 494 ft. to look up towards the Bernina Massif, which is over 13,000 ft. tall. Beyond the Bernina Massif lies the Engadine Valley, home to St. Moritz and it`s surrounding villages.

We had to drive through St. Moritz to reach Fabio´s village of S-Chanf. I immediately fell in love with the wonderful city, with it´s beautiful hotels, and old European charm.

A 15 minute drive beyond St. Moritz, and we arrived in Chanf, town of 547 residents that is hidden among the beautifully high, snow-capped Alps. What immediately struck me about the area is that it is throughly Italian. The buildings look exactly like they do in Italy. And I know this sounds strange, but the rooves of homes in Italy are quite different from those in Germany, and in the Engadine Valley, they are completely Italian. The names of the people in this area are all Italian, and the lanugages spoken here are Romansch (an old Romance lanugage,) and Italian. This is where tiny Switzerland amazes me, because in a space the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined, there are three distinct cultures, French, German, and Italian. Of course, if you could walk over the Alps, you would quickly be in Italy from St. Moritz, which would also explain this strong influence.

On Saturday morning, after Joern and Marcel had a debate over whether to buy ostrich eggs from the farm down the street for breakfast, Joern and I headed out to St. Moritz. Since I already had fallen in love on Friday, I was only in for a day in heaven by going back. St. Moritz lies among the Alps, on Lej da San Murezzan lake. The city rises up a mountain - side, and from the center, and the residential area above the center, one has remarkable views. It is really a winter town, home to the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, and the last natural bobsled run in the world. In the summer, the town is very quiet, some bike riders and hikers bring a little life to the area, but nothing like in the winter. For me, it was perfect, as I adore going to towns off season, to see what they are really like.

First stop was to visit the grocery store, as this is one of our favorite ways to learn about a culture. Plus, bringing home food from another country is always an excellent way to enjoy your trip when you`re back home. We bought coffee, chocolate, and pre-packaged Rösti, which is like a pan-sized hash brown. After the grocery store, we walked down to the lake and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

We then drove up to the city center, which is up on a mountain. Much of the city center is under construction, average for the fact that the city springs to life in November. The city center reminds me of a very, very old 5th Avenue. Very old like medieval 5th Avenue. There is so much old- world charm surrounding Cartier, Prada, Gucci, and the like. We walked by to the famous hotel, Badrutt`s Palace, which has been catering to the international jet-set since the 1800s. The city center has such impressive views of the Alps, and oozes charm. I could have stayed forever.

In the afternoon, we went back to Fabio´s apartment to watch the soccer game, which ended in Stuttgart being crowned German champions! We headed home at 6:00, stopped at Heidiland, and were home by 11:00. What an amazing way to spend a weekend!!

You can see all the pictures from our trip at www.joernandallison.shutterfly.com


In Europe, soccer(or football) is THE sport. For most people here, life is family, soccer, work; but the order of importance changes for some people. Professional soccer leagues form a very complicated network, including competitions within the country, and competitions within the world. Imagine that professional baseball was played with equal feverish devotion all over the world, there would be competions within the US, and then the "World Series," would be just that, and the American champions would compete against champions from other countries.

In Germany, there is the Bundesliga (like the major leagues,) and a variety of levels of other teams (the minor leagues,) that all comprise German soccer. Saturday afternoon marked the end of the season for the Bundesliga, in effect, the German soccer world series. Unlike the baseball though,there are no playoffs. All games are regularly scheduled season games, and the winner is determined by points acquired throughout the season. The two teams that were vying for the German Master title yesterday were, VfB Stuttgart (of course, our team,) and FC Schalke 04 (near Dortmund.) The two games were took place at the same time, and it was quite nerve-wracking. FC Schalke was playing a team from the northern Germany, and Stuttgart was playing Cottbus (another team from the north.)

Going into the game, Stuttgart was leading Schalke by one point. If Schalke won yesterday's game, and Stuttgart lost, then the two teams would have tied, and the championship would have been determined by the number of goals scored by each team. For a time yesterday, Stuttgart had not scored against Cottbus, and Schalke was leading in their game by 3 goals. It was very scary. But then, Stuttgart came around in the second half, scoring two goals, and winning the game and the title of German Champions 2007!!!! YEAH STUTTGART!!!

Of course, the entire state erupted into a party. More than 150,000 fans had packed into the center of Stuttgart, where public viewing areas were set up. After the win, downtown became one giant party.The players parade began around 6 pm, and it took many many hours because of the amount of people. Stuttgart was completely packed with revelers far into the morning. And why not? The fans deserved it, and so did the players!!

Sonntag, 13. Mai 2007

Eurovision song contest

It´s that time of the year again, another event that makes you think, "where did the time go?" and "why on Earth am I watching this?"
The Eurovision Song Contest is in its 52 year of entertaining Europeans, and Israelis, although it is broadcast worldwide, voting and participation is limited to Europe, Israel, and Turkey.

42 countries participate, and send the representative songs to the Eurovision governing board, and from these 42, 28 are sent to the semi-finals. Some countries may pass to the semi-finals, but not to the finals because they did poorly the year before. Four countries though, Germany, France, Spain, and the UK can never be voted out of the finals (because they are the largest financial backers.) From this group in the semi-finals, 20 are chosen to go to the finals, plus the "Big Four," that must always participate.

Previous winners include Celine Dion (representing Switzerland,) Abba with Waterloo, and Katrina and the Waves. Generally, the musicians should not have already received worldwide listner status. Celine Dion was relatively unknown when she won in 1988.

The finals are held on a Saturday night, usually in May. Up to 600 million people worldwide tune in to watch. Although the show brings kitsch to a new level, it is really cool. Some countries chose to go traditional, enter songs in their native languages and keep with traditional music, but some countries sing in English and some chose very progressive music. It is something so very European, it is really enjoyable to be a part of it.

We watched the majority of the show, but missed the entry from Serbia who went on to win the contest. By far, our favorite was the entry from the Ukraine, a band whose lead singer is a transvestite. How much better can you get than a futuristic, Ukrainian Ru-Paul?!!

We also enjoyed the song by the Romanian group, who reminded us of a singing circus act. I was pleased with the Irish entry, they stayed very traditional, and I so enjoy traditional Irish music!

After the entrants perform, each of the participating 42 countries have 15 minutes to call in with votes. Then, to report the votes, a person is chosen as a representative (usually a celebrity from that country.) It is always fun to see how the people in each country celebrate the contest.

In the end, the Ukrainians came in second, behind Serbia. Sadly, there is a lot of political motivation behind the voting, as well as "friendship." The Turkish performers received the most votes from Germany and the Netherlands, the two western European countries with the highest Turkish population. But overall, it is quite an entertaining evening! You can look forward to my post next year, about the Eurovision Song Contest from Serbia!!

Freitag, 11. Mai 2007

My luck

I worked on the military base here in Germany for 5 full years. In those 5 years, there was one USO concert about 2 hours from here, and it was a Keith Urban, which Joern would never have gone to see.
Last night, Mandy came over for dinner. Joern made absolutely delicious whole wheat spaghetti with a white asparagus cream sauce! I love being married to such a great cook. Alas, my waistline does not!
But, getting back to my story. So, Mandy tells us that Gary Senise is in Stuttgart this week! Hello, I LOVE Gary Senise. He's on a USO tour, and tonight, he and his band, the Lieutenant Dan Band, are playing here! GRRRRR!
I'm pretty sure that we can't get signed on base for this event, because USO events are always for ID card holders. That is SO frustrating! Where on earth was Gary Senise for the past 5 years? Why now?

Donnerstag, 10. Mai 2007

A great day today

Something really cool happened today that hasn´t happened in a long time- I worked! One of the ladies I met though my brief stint working with religious education on base helped me to get in touch with the International School of Stuttgart. Even though I had interviewed with them in September, a number of miscommunications resulted in neither the school nor myself staying in contact. This friend of mine emailed me over the weekend to say that the school was really in need of subs, and that she brought my name up again with the school. When I contacted the school on Monday morning, they told me they needed someone today (Thursday.)
I subbed for a kindergarten classroom assistant, and had the most wonderful time! I haven´t worked with little ones in a long time, and was certain that I didn`t like working with small children. Today totally changed my mind! The 16 little ones were adorable, and I had an incredible day! The teacher was a wonderful lady from Australia, and she and I got along quite well. She´s so great that she talked me into volunteering in her classroom, which I hope to begin within the upcoming week. I am so excited now, in the hopes that I may be able to do some more subbing at the school, and maybe, if everyone keeps their fingers crossed, I might be able to get a job as a classroom assistant in the fall. Then, I will have a job while I work on getting my master´s and teaching certification! I am just so excited right now! Hope everyone is well, and looking forward to a great weekend!

Dienstag, 8. Mai 2007

Way to go Stuttgart!

It´s that time of the year again in Germany- when all the statistics come out about the previous year.
Turns out Germany is among the safest countries in the world, and Stuttgart is tied for the lowest crime rate in the country! That means we live in one of the safest cities in one of the safest countries in the world! Now, if that isn´t reason to pack up, move to Germany, and raise kids here, I don´t know what is!

Things here are going well. I got wonderful news yesterday. I will begin working as a sub in the International School of Stuttgart on Thursday! I interviewed earlier in the school year, but due to a variety of problems (like taxes) I was unable to start much earlier. Since I haven´t worked in almost a year, I am so excited to start earning a little money again. Plus, this is an excellent way to get my foot in the door at the school! Needless to say, I have bubbling over with excitement for 2 days now!

We are starting to plan for Joern´s birthday, which is always a big cook out. Hopefully, it won´t rain. But, since we had no rain in April, I shouldn´t complain at all about rain because we desperately need it! I can´t believe that it´s already almost our birthday/anniversary season again! Time really flies!

I hope everyone who is reading this is doing well!! Good night!