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.

Sonntag, 26. Oktober 2008


We're at the Frankfurt airport right now, for the second day in a row. We left home yesterday at 8 am to make it to the airport to rush home (Fairfield home.) My stepfather passed away on Friday. I hope that he has found peace and comfort, because things were getting quite difficult for him this past week. My mom is upset, as anyone can imagine. We are going home for the week to help set my mom back up. I hope it works.
We got to the airport to find that they were taking voluntary bumps. We said that although it would be nice, we really needed to get home. Long story short, voluntary changed to mandatory, and we were bumped. It figures that we have never been offered a voluntary bump from a flight. Why yesterday? Lufthansa took good care of us. We stayed in a lovely hotel, had a wonderful dinner and breakfast all from Lufthansa. We also had a choice of a flight voucher or a cash incentive. Either choice would have been a good deal.
So, here we are. Joern has met a very nice retired teacher. I love him, he can become friends with everyone quickly. It is so cute.
I'm not exactly excited for this trip home this time, I know this will be a difficult week. But hopefully, it will help allievate so much of the stress that has been building up from all the unknowns. We'll see :)

Freitag, 24. Oktober 2008

An emotional first day of school

Well, it is really no big surprise to anyone that I have been entirely too emotional these past few weeks. Today, the first day of my teaching program, was also the last day of school before our fall break. The end of the day was so incredibly emotional, it was heart- breaking.
One of the students in our class is moving back to Japan. Today was her last day. I guess I should explain that this little one is a true keeper. She is kind, hard working, and generally a happy, lovely pesonality. We have been talking about her leaving for weeks, but it was so sad to say "goodbye" today. I have said goodbye to lots of students. On base, kids moved frequently. I'm sure there were some difficult times, and my eyes would often tear-up saying "goodbye," but I was able to get a handle on my emotions.
I think though that first grade is a tough age for goodbyes. It was sad to see our little leaving one go from smiles at the beginning of the day, to being cuddled on a pillow by the end of the day. She said her stomach was bothering her, but she just seemed so sad, it was effecting her physically. What was particularly hard was when we tried to get the class together for a final class picture. Another girl in our class, the best friend of leaving little one, burst out in tears. Uncontrollable, large, devistating tears. Little leaving one started crying too. We know the emotions wrapped up in moving, and having a friend move, but it is so painful to watch little ones go through it.
When I got home, I logged on to my new school, to find that my first course is up online. I haven't been involved in formal education in 7 years. Yikes! I do hope that I will do okay. The class is classroom management, and I have begun the first lesson, which defines classroom management. It turns out that there is quite a bit of material to cover for each lesson, and lessons are completed on a weekly basis. I also got an email about a five week math-test prep class offered. The math test is part of the general knowledge test that the state of Florida requires of teaching students. Math is definately not my strong point, so it looks like I'm going to enroll in a mini-class.
I am glad that I have a week off now to process everything!

Dienstag, 21. Oktober 2008


image from http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Inner-Diva-Posters_i408825_.htm
The life of an expat is really unique. Working on a military base, I often commented on how amazing the kids were. Military kids move every three years, sometimes more often, and are really amazing at fitting in to new schools and environments. Then, I would comment on how I felt bad for the small group of kids of contractors, the kids who stayed for many years. I would note that it must be tougher for them in a way, because their friends were always coming and going, but for them, life remained the same, and they were the ones who had to be most flexible.
Seven years later, and I have now realized that I am in the same boat as the second group of kids I mentioned. Expat communities ebb and flow. Some of the friends I have made here have connections to the military, and fall into the first group of kids, they move about every three years. Most of my friends though fall into another group, they may be here for a year, they may be here for 10 years, but a lot simply don't know how long they will be here.
Our plan, on the other hand, is pretty constant. Of course, I know long-term plans can change. But, for right now, we are here for the long-run. I am happy here and am pleased with the thought of raising kids here. One thing that I find difficult though is the friend situation.
I have met some of the most incredible people here, and I am so happy to call these people my friends. I feel like the friends I have made here are stronger friendships than many of those I made at home, it seems that we are on a similar wavelength, and I feel like I can really be myself with my "here" friends. The only problem is that many of them have moved, will move, or may move. I won't.
Sadly, I have lost contact with many of them who have moved. Email is great, Facebook is great, but sometimes, even these methods can't support a friendship.
One of my friends moved back to Arizona almost two years ago. Although Ashley and I would say "hi" to each other every now and then, we didn't really communicate since she left. She was a good friend of mine, and I have felt her absence for the 2 years since she left.
Spurred by new phone service we have, with unlimited U.S. minutes, I decided to give Ashley a call today. It was wonderful talking to an old friend. Given all that is going on right now, it felt so good to hear about someone else's happiness. It gave me hope that things can and will change, and all that Joern and I are going through now will not last. It was also wonderful to hear her thoughts and ideas, both of which I always appreciated from Ashley. She was always someone I could rely on to listen when I needed to vent, and offered advice only when I asked for it. And knowing that she is still there is really something that has done my heart good.
I am really thankful to Joern for getting this new phone service. Somehow, knowing that we have all these minutes we are paying for has really given me a greater drive to call home. Given how these expat friends of mine come and go, it is nice to know I can hold on to some of these friends long after they have moved far away.

Sonntag, 19. Oktober 2008

Saturday with Abbey

I got my first dog when I was 5. Sadly, our first family attempt at dog owning met a tragic end. But, when I was 11, I got Chloe. When I was 13, my dad got Sox. Sox and Chloe saw me go proms, met my boyfriends,watched me go off to college, saw me get married, and they were both glad to welcome me on multiple visits home from Germany. Chloe and Sox were really important in my life, and for me, having a dog became a way of life.
Since I've moved to Germany, we've been unable to have a dog of our own. First, Jörn had a cat, Paul, and Jörn's parents were certain that a dog could not live in the house with Paul. Once we moved into our own apartment, we found that we are not allowed to have dogs living in our building.
Yes, I had a wonderful little bunny, but have always pined for a dog. There is something about the companionship of a dog that cannot be equaled. True, dog is man's best friend, but a woman's too.
Since my friend Mandy's fiancé is away, she is a surrogate dog-mom to Abigail, a wonderful black lab. We benefit from this relationship because when Mandy goes away, we are on the doggy-sitter list. Because Mandy was away for an extremely long day yesterday, we got to spend the day with Abbey.
I adore Abbey. She is wonderfully trained, and has an incredible personality. Abbey is a quiet type, who loves long walks out on the fields and cuddling on the couch.
We picked Abbey up relatively early, around 10, and drove home with her. She is going through a confusing time right now, as she just moved in with Mandy last week. I felt so bad that she was even more confused when we came into her new "house" and picked her up and put her in our car. If she knew what kidnapping meant, Abbey definately would have thought she was being kidnapped. Once we got home, we for a little walk around our town.

Abbey looking out over the Neckar River
After we returned from our walk, she seemed to have adjusted to the day, and jumped up on our couch and fell asleep.

After she woke up, she and I cuddled for a while and watched a movie. It was so nice just having her around. She really added life to the apartment. She even welcomed Joern when he came home.

This really reminded me of one of my favorite things about having a dog, the "welcome home, I missed you more than anything in the world," welcome. We then took Abbey for a longer walk. We walked up the Jusi, which was an active volcano millions of years ago. It is part of the Swabian Alb, the low-mountain range that stretches from the Black Forest to the Alps. The views from the top were breathtaking.

Abbey and I enjoyed the views too.

After we went back down the mountain, we visited with some sheep that were near the parking lot.

We returned Abbey to Mandy's at 7:30 pm, and cooked up some dinner. I hope it was nice for Mandy to return home after a long day of high school football to her dog, her friends, and a good dinner.

Freitag, 17. Oktober 2008

My last weekend of freedom

One week from today, I will begin my teaching certification program. For the next nine months, I will be working hard on furthering my career and expanding my knowledge base. I am excited and nervous. The last time I was involved in university-level learning was 7 years ago. Boy, time does go by fast.
I think I am about as ready as possible. Books have been in for a while, even a Psychology textbook I ordered just to have on hand as a reference. Amazingly, despite keeping strange school books, like Moby Dick, I sold back my Psych book. Grrr! Tuition is paid. I have set up my new school email and e-Learning accounts.
And I received a big surprise today! Joern bought me a new laptop with a mobile-internet stick. I am so excited!!! The new laptop is a new Eee-PC, like my pink one, just with Windows, a larger screen, and a slightly larger keyboard. It is black this time, but no complaints here. I feel really like I am getting ready for my first day of school, and remember beginning college with my brand new laptop. Okay, that lasted me four years, and I am going to make this stretch a whole 9 months, but still, it feels so exciting!
I am going to do lots of housework this weekend, because I know that will decline slightly when I begin school. Otherwise, I am just going to try to relax a bit this weekend and know that this is it for a while!

Montag, 13. Oktober 2008

A weekend away in Austria

Wow, I can't believe its been a week since I've posted. I guess my life is pretty boring. Actually, my life is totally stressful, and boring is something I would love, just nothing is really blog-worthy.
I did manage to spend the weekend with some of my colleagues in Austria though. They do a weekend every year, and I decided this year would be a good time to go.
We left work at 3 pm on Friday, and headed to Tschagguns, Austria, nestled in the Alps. The ride was about 3 hours, and was really easy and a lot of fun, because I rode with two of my friends, Maxine and Iris. We were the assistants car, and am sure we were the most fun too :)
We arrived at the house we had rented for the weekend around 7 pm, which was great. The house was lovely, and fit all 16 of us perfectly!

Even better, since we arrived earlier than most, we scored the best room in the house! This was our view-

We had a nice dinner of Maultaschen, a traditional Swabian meal. After dinner, we all played one of my favorite games, Apples to Apples.
What made me laugh was that I have played the game many times before, but only with Americans. In a mixed nationality crowd, I began to notice the American culture which comes out in the game, something which other countried believe our nation lacks. It was fun!
After an amazing breakfast on Saturday morning, everyone left for a hike in the mountains. The hike was supposed to be four hours, and involved taking a gondola high up a mountain, and then walking down. I knew that the hike was a task that would be far beyond my capabilities, so I chose to stay at the house and study for my driving test. It was really great to have four hours, which turned into five hours, to myself. I had no distractions (laundry included,) to study for my test and to start reading for my upcoming class. Not only was the solitude useful, but I had an incredible view while studying!

This was the view from the terrace of the house. Obviously, we were also incredibly lucky because we had amazing weather. And the view was enhanced with the beautiful colors of autum.
I did take a study break, and take a little walk around the area. I even made some Austrian friends.

After everyone returned, all extremely sore and limping, my decision was confirmed. Dinner on Saturday night was a delicious Raclette. Raclette is in a way similar to fondue. It comes from Switzerland. In raclette, diners sit around a small grill, under which small trays of vegetables covered with cheese heat up. People usually grill small pieces of meat on top of the grill. It is a definite party meal, and takes a rather long time. But, sparks some great conversation.

After our delicious meal, we had some singing. At one point, we even tried to call a retired colleague, who is now home in Australia. Sadly, she did not pick up the phone. Although I can't imagaine why, it was only 4:30 am her time! After our song time, it was time for another board game, Loaded Questions. It was fun, but nothing like Apples to Apples.

Sunday morning was another beautiful morning. We left the house around 11:30 and headed into the valley, the starting point of another smaller hike. The group took another gondola up a mountain, and hiked about 2 hours. Unfortunately, my friend Maxine was not feeling well at all, and decided to leave early. I chose to drive back with Maxine for various reasons. It worked out fine well though as we had a lot of great laughs on the ride back. It was nice to be able to spend so much time just with Maxine, as she is really a great person.

All in all, it was a nice weekend. I'm glad I went. It afforded me the opportunity to get to know some of my co-workers. It was also a great time to spend with some of my friends that I rarely get to see!

Montag, 6. Oktober 2008

A taste of home, both of them

One of the great things about Jörn's job is the great access he has to the food industry. Today, Jörn brought home with him two very different items, both hold very special places in my heart as being food from my two homes.
Unfortunately, Jörn had to work yesterday. This was especially sad because Friday was a holiday, and we had been excited about our first long weekend since school started. Making the whole thing even more difficult was the fact it was a Sunday, and nothing is open on Sunday, but poor Jörn had to work. He was representing his company at a butcher fair held here at the Stuttgart Fair Center. Hmpf! Despite his reluctance to work yesterday, it turned in to a great experience. He spent the day sitting next to the man who runs Subway Germany. But, he was most excited to tell me about the bagels. Yup, bagels! Not that impressive, except for the fact that our bagel choices here are abysmal. Sure, you can get a bagel at Starbucks, but they don't taste good at all. Nor can you get a bagel with cream cheese at Starbucks, it comes with a fluffier version of cream cheese with sprouts and lettuce. We have occasionally had luck with some bagels prepackaged in the grocery store, but finding them can be really difficult.
Better yet, Jörn was able to score some bagels today at the fair! They are by far the best bagels I have had in southwestern Germany. We had a great experience once in a bagel shop in Leipzig, but that is over 6 hours from here. We now have cinnamon raisin, sesame, onion, and multigrain. I love them! Now, we need to send these guys lots of luck that they can find their way here, so that one more thing missing from my American life is back.

Besides all the bagely goodness in a box, Jörn brought home one other surprise from one of his customers today. He brought home a Spitzkraut.

Spitzkraut, pointed cabbage, is unique to our region. It is grown in the Filder, a plain located south of Stuttgart. The area is very fertile, and perfect for growing this unique cabbage. Although it can be found in markets all over Europe, it is only grown here.
Spitzkraut, or Filderkraut as locals tend to refer to it, is known for its very refined taste. It makes excellent sauerkraut, and even better Krautkuchen. For those faithful readers, you already know Jörn's plans, it is time yet again to fill our kitchen with wonderful Krautkuchen!

Sonntag, 5. Oktober 2008

Gingerbread lattes and a project

I realized that I haven't posted in a while. Last week was very busy, and Joern and I have been coming down with a wonderful bug. We've been really tired and congested. It hasn't been too much fun.
Thursday marked my transition in my carreer. We had a teacher workday. The assistants had a Macbook workshop and talked about professional development. The teachers had a workshop on action-research groups. I really wanted to go to the Macbook workshop, since I have no clue how to use them, and I also wanted a say in the professional development. But, my principal and I talked about it, and decided it would be best if I attended the teacher workshop.
The workshop ran the whole day Thursday, and was partly interesting. By the end of the day, we had formed small groups with specific interests. I stepped out of my comfort zone by joining a group of teachers I don't know very well. My friends all ended up in one group working on handwriting, but that is not where I felt I could be useful. I am in the group focusing on literacy across grades. I am very excited to be working on something close to my background in speech and language. But, I am very scared to be taking part in a group to which I feel I can contribute relatively little.
It was also a little sad that I wasn't able to spend the day with my assistant friends. It is sad to me at our school that the teachers and the assistants don't really hang out together. There seems to be a divide. Right now, I am in the middle of that divide, which is tough. At my old school, my friends were all teachers, and I didn't really spend time socially with the other assistants. It is strange how different schools draw lines socially.
This weekend, we relaxed and visited Joern's friends who live along the Czech border. We are hoping to be able to go back to their house in a few weeks as the starting point in our hopeful trip to Prague.
Right now, I am in heaven, enjoying the wonders of artificially flavored syrup. We bought gingerbread syrup the other day. Now, I am enjoying a gingerbread latte. I feel like I'm at home in Starbucks! Aahhh. If only I could find a pumpkin spice syrup, it would all be perfect!