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.

Mittwoch, 20. Februar 2008

Goodbye Probation!!!!!!!

I received a letter in my mail cubby today at work. The letter stated that I have successfully completed my probationary period, and congratulated me on a job well done.
Horray!!! Now, I don't have to feel pressured that my job may be cut, and no one returning from maternity leave can bump me out! Wahoooo!

Now, I can start planning our summer vacation in earnest, knowing that I will have an income to come back to in September!

Montag, 18. Februar 2008


Kehrwoche is an undeniably Swabian invention. Like it's relatives, Spaetzle and the Swabian dialect , it is something that comes naturally to all natives, and leaves us foreigners a little confused.
Kehrwoche itself only occurs in multi-family buidlings, and is the solution to the eternal question, "who is responsible for cleaning the common areas of the building?". In keeping with the people of this lineage, one cannot hire cleaning people to care for these common areas, simply because that would cost money. But how do we make this fair? Kehrwoche solves the problem by splitting the duties up weekly by family. Tasks usually involve taking the correct garbage cans to the curb on the correct days, mopping the cellar floors, sweeping the driveway and road in front of the driveway, mowing the lawn in the summer, and cleaning the entryway. The most amazing part is that a Kehrwoche usually means also kissing your Saturday goodbye, as tasks can take more than 4 hours to complete.
Kehrwoche is one of my major fears here, because I just know I won't clean properly, which will lead to people talking about us (the biggest punishment of all in our town.) In order to calm my fears, Joern decided to take care of the lawn of our building in exchange for the escape of Kehrwoche resposnabilities. Therefore, for the past 3 years, I have been able to successfully not face my fear. Of course, all that changed last summer though, when our building manager placed a new set of rules for lawn care and disposal of clippings that Joern could not agree with. He sent in his resignation as grounds-keeper in August, which meant that 2008 brought with it the dawn of Allison's experience of Kehrwoche.

Since there are 8 families in our building, our first week began today. Somehow, we avoided getting the "sign" that magically apppears on your front door at midnight Monday morning. Our first task was tonight, to make sure the bio-garbage made it out to the curb for pick-up tomorrow. Misson complete.
Now, we just have to remember to put the can away properly tomorrow, and of course, to clean properly on Saturday, and this will be a piece of cake.

Sonntag, 17. Februar 2008

Happy Belated Valentine's Day

Since I just got a new camera on Wednesday, I was able to capture some momentos of our Valentine's Day celebration. Unfortunately, since we didn't eat dinner until 10 pm on Valentine's Day, I didn't post immediately.
We had a wonderful Valentine's Day, made all the more special by Joern, who can be incredibly romantic :)
Our original plans were to have a quiet dinner at home, and work on our "Us Book," which was Joern's Valentine's gift last year. As we drove to work Thursday morning, Joern said, "What time is your movie (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) playing tonight?" I could not believe it! I really wanted to see the movie, and it has been playing in English for 3 weeks now, and I knew that it would not be playing much longer. And, Joern never wants to do anything after work. This was so exciting!! So, we decided to go see the movie right after work, at the Corso, which is the original version movie theater here. The best part was that we were the only people in the theater, so we had a private screening of the movie! It was so enjoyable to see Washington D.C, and we could even talk about it during the movie :)
We didn't realize that it would be so long though, the movie got out at 7:00, so we didn't get home until 8:00. When we got home, Joern gave me beautiful flowers, a heart pillow, and a heart Berliner (jelly donught.)

I made dinner. This was the first year I had not planned ahead very well, and we didn't have Filet Mignon. Instead we had a salad, steak and shallots with a red wine sauce, wild mushroom risotto, and panna cotta for desert. It was so yummy!

Wild Mushroom Risotto (Martha Stewart Living Classic Cookbook)

Steak with Shallots and Red Wine Sauce (Martha Stewart Living Classic Cookbook)

And, while we ate, we discussed plans for our Valentine's gift to each other- a weekend in Paris! We still haven't set a definite date, because I am waiting for my passport, and we might go away the week before Easter, but we will spend a romantic weekend in Paris in the not-too-distant future.
I love love!

Montag, 11. Februar 2008

A chance to brag for a moment

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I was applying for permanent residency here in Germany. Permanent residency is beneficial for many reasons, including the fact that you do not have to go through further steps to become and remain employed.
I handed in my filled out application 2 weeks ago, with all appropriate documentation. Last week, we received a letter stating that I had to come to the "Foreigners Department," within a week, and that I could not discuss this matter over the telephone.
Ha! Imagine my confusion. I know plenty of people with permanent residency, who did not have to have this special meeting. Thoughts raced through our minds all weekend as to what on earth this could concern.
This morning, I nervously entered the district office, and made my way to the department of foreigners. The girl took out all my information, and said, "Ah, now I need to test your German!"
ARGH! This is not what I expected at 8:00 am on a Monday morning when I should have been at work. Oh my gosh, what on earth was I going to need to prove? My German skills are okay, I can get my point across, but I certainly make mistakes with every sentence. In this country, in order to gain residency, you must show proficiency with the language. Even more frightening, the entire citizenship test is only administered in German, with a German language section. They are serious here that you really should speak the language if you want to live here!
So, the girl at the desk asked me a bunch of questions about when I moved here, if I left for any extended periods, my job, and Jörn's job. The funny part of course, Jörn's job- salt sales representative :)
Then she gave me a picture with a city scene, and asked me to describe the picture.
After three minutes of terror, and complete nervousness, and tons of mistakes, she informed me that I passed. I will be receiving my passport next week with a lovely new residency permit.
It didn't really hit me until we got out of the car, and Jörn congratulated me, and said that he was so proud of me for doing such a good job with German. It has slowly been hitting me all day-I handled a super scary situation, and did it completely in a foreign language. HA! I am so excited! I believe that we should go on a weekend trip to celebrate :)

Sonntag, 10. Februar 2008

Nuremberg Toy Fair

Yesterday, my in-laws, Jörn, and myself traveled to Nuremberg to attend the annual Toy Fair. Jörn's parents run a business importing toys from China to German grocery and toy stores. I guess since I have started helping in a very small way, reading and writing emails mostly, I too was invited to this event, which is not open to the public. I guess yesterday was my induction into "the World Toy Society."
It was actually my second trade fair. My first, a few years ago, was a paper-goods fair in Frankfurt. It was so boring, I swore never to go to another fair again. But, Jörn lured me with a promise of a tasty Bavarian dinner if I went.
The Nuremberg Fair Hall is GIGANTIC!!!!!!!!!!!!! We spent about 5 hours mostly in the Far East Halls, but did manage to wander over to the Plush Animals and Dolls Hall, and to the Electronic Toys and Hobbies Hall.
I really enjoyed being able to meet some of the people that Jörn and his parents talk about, and I also really enjoyed looking at all of the new products. We spent lots of time looking at games, and met a man from Israel who had some of the coolest new games. How on earth does one even come up with the idea for a new game? It was so interesting to see all the new products he was displaying. I'm secretly hoping that we can do business with him, just so I can talk Jörn into visiting Israel :)
It was interesting to visit some of the larger booths, like Ravensburger and Hasbro. My in-laws even made a special detour just so I could visit the Steiff booth, which was great. Like the Steiff Museum, they had some animated stuffed animal displays, along with some of their newest stuffed animals. The Steiff company also unveiled the official stuffed animal of Flocke, Germany's latest polar bear superstar. It was very cute, and surprisingly, they actually constructed it so that it does not look identical to the official Steiff "Knut" from last year.
I was also very proud of my outfit. It isn't very often that you get to wear a suit when you work with 4 year olds. Further, I debuted my very first cashmere sweater which looked perfect underneath my suit. I have to say, for the first time in my life, I almost looked my age :)
After our long day, Jörn decided that we would not be going to eat in my favorite Bavarian restaurant, so instead we opted for a very nice Chinese restaruant very close to home.
All in all it was a great day, and I am quite looking forward to our return next year!

Mittwoch, 6. Februar 2008


Fitting that I am writing a post about Fasching on Ash Wednesday, but that's just the way it is :)
We just made it through the 2008 Fasching season, the German pre-Lenten celebration that does not get nearly enough press throughout the world.
Depending on where you live in Germany, you could be taking part in one of many different celebrations all lumped in to this Fasching concept. In the north, Karneval (like Carnival) is celebrated from 11 November until midnight Ash Wednesday. In the south, it is Fasching or Fastnacht, depending if you are in the southeast or southwest. All celebrations kick into full gear on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which is known as "Dirty Thursday," and last throughout the weekend and Monday "Rose Monday," and Tuesday, "Fasching Tuesday."
The country retains an aire of silliness and party throughout the weekend. Many parades take place especially around us, where Fastnacht is strongly celebrated in towns in the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb.
The following are some pictures, not mine, of the typical characters you find in Swabian Fastnacht celebrations:

Okay, so there is a good reason that the above are not my pictures: I HATE FASCHING! I hate Fasching as much as Halloween, actually, I may despise this time even more. Halloween has the decency to last one night. Really, there is nothing wrong with Fasching, but it is not a thing for me.

The one thing that I found thoroughly enjoyable though was our school-wide Faschings celebration that took place this past Friday. Besides party, it is also an opportunity for kids here to dress up and have fun. Our celebration was one of the most enjoyable celebrations I have witnessed thus far at school. It was wonderful to see the kids get all dressed up. Of course, few followed the suggested circus theme, but what can you do? We made a mural, had a snack of a traditional Fastnachtsküchle (Fastnacht cake,) played games, and of course, took part in a school-wide Fasching parade.
We even were lucky enough to be visited by a witch. No, she's not a real witch, but she is a part of a club that takes part in traditional Fastnacht/ Fasching parades in the area. She even put her mask on, which the kids absolutely loved!!!
Honestly, in my 6 years here, I have never enjoyed this time of year. But after Friday, I completely (well not so completely,) changed my mind.

Sonntag, 3. Februar 2008

Two Finished Books

Since Joern wasn't feeling well last night, and I still haven't found my voice, we decided not to go to the movie last night. Instead, we stayed home, and I finished up Harry Potter 7, The Deathly Hallows. I also finished another book a few weeks ago, and have yet to post on it.

I have such mixed feelings about the 7th and last installment of the Harry Potter series. First, I have had the book since early September, but as with the past 2 books, I have found the beginning parts entirely boring. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, book 6, took such a long time for me to get through the first 200 pages. This 7th book, was entirely boring for the first 500 pages. Ugh! In the last week or so, I decided to hunker down, that there had to be some excitement, after all, it is Harry Potter, a series which I have throughly enjoyed.
Once I set down, and suffered through the first 500 pages, I finally found the excitement. Then, I didn't want to put it down, didn't want to go to sleep, even though I knew that I had to go to sleep at night because I was so sick.
I won't give endings away, but it was overall a pretty good book. Okay, so the beginning and middle could have been cut down to, "nothing worked for Harry, Hermionie, and Ron for quite a while, and that was bad." And, "some people died."
I think that too many characters died in the book, and I don't know how good it is to teach kids (cause let's face it, kids still adore Harry even though J.K. Rowling tries to say it is not a kids book,) that they should be willing to die for their friends. I would do a lot for my friends, but fighting "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" might not be something I would ever do. I just think the book could have been equally enjoyable without so many deaths, and we all could have understood the moral of the story. The book was good, but it isn't so bad to say goodbye to Harry. I think any further story would be beating a dead horse. Hats off to J.K. Rowling for knowing when to end too much of a good thing.

I also finished reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, a few weeks ago. I had heard great reivews of the book, and picked it up while shopping in one of my favorite and most missed stores, Borders. I chose it because in the story, the author travels to Italy, India, and Bali. Any book involving traveling is intriguing to me. As soon as I got through the first chapter though, I felt that I could not relate with this character. The main character leaves her husband and then sets off on this journey to learn about pleasure, devotion, and love. I feel like the author wants us to feel with her, but I do not think her choices should necessarily be celebrated. The author comments that Americans are too focused on their jobs, money, etc, and through this, miss a lot of the enjoyment that can be found in life. I agree. But she fails to touch on the fact that some Americans are also far too quick to give up on marriage, that we have come to expect immediate gratification, instead of the pleasures found in waiting and working for your own personal happiness. I did enjoy her descirptions of her experiences in Rome, at an Ashram in India, and her time with a Medicine Man in the village of Ubud in Bali. She also brilliantly writes about other people, and you too almost form a relationship with those she encounters throughout her journey. In the end, it turns into a feel-good, you can be happy book, which is ultimately fine. I would recommend the book to others, it is simply my personal feelings that made the book a little difficult for me.

Samstag, 2. Februar 2008

Headin down the freeway of my childhood.

Some things were inevitable growing up with my mother. You will love shopping, books, and Aretha Franklin. Who's Zoomin Who, Freeway of Love, Chain of Fools, I Knew You were Waiting for Me, these songs have woven themselves into my past, most probably in memories of driving either to or from the mall. Of course, as a young child, the thought of listening to yet another song by Aretha was torture. But as I've grown up, I've truly come to appreciate one of the most influential artists of all time.
Comes as no surprise that this morning, as I prepared for my day of cleaning, I decided that yes, indeed, a little Aretha to spice up my cleaning would do the trick.
I had to really restrain myself though, because, realizing that I had no songs by the Queen of Soul, I wanted to purchase about $50 worth of albums and songs.
Okay, well done Allison, I only downloaded about 10 songs, which I am dying to hear!
Cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom have to be more enjoyable croaking along with Aretha! (Oh yeah, I say croaking because I've had a lovely really horrible cold for two weeks now- thank you all you nose picking 4 year olds!)
Hopefully, this will carry me through the day! Tonight, we have plans with Joern's friend Ralf to go see National Treasure! Yay!