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, 27. Januar 2010

Navigating the world of illness, in another world

Being sick, even if you're like me and sure that you're not exactly "sick" is always trying. Not only do I have a recurrent back problem, but I also have a chronic illness. Both of which don't qualify me as sick, but do require me to have lots of experiences with doctors.
Add to that the fact that I'm navigating this world of doctors in another country, in another langauge, and well, sometimes it'll make your head spin!
This is my third week of being out of work for my back. After last week's visit to the GP, I received a referral to an orthopedist. The result from Monday's visit, I ended up with a referral to physical therapy for my back, and for my arthritis!
Today was my first PT session. It went really well, and I was all by myself, and understood almost everything- IN GERMAN! The therapist did some stretches and realigning of my spine. Then, he taught me a few exercises to do at home. Last, I got to sit under a hot lamp (like a baked chicken) for about 10 minutes- I totally could have fallen asleep!
I also learned that the arthritis therapy is "functional training," and will be done at a gym. Some gyms here work in conjunction with health insurances, so my sessions should be mostly covered by my insurance. I will receive two years of training for my arthritis- wahoo!
Hopefully, this will all work, and I can get stronger and better.

Freitag, 15. Januar 2010

My extended Christmas break

2009 marked my first Christmas spent entirely in Germany. We flew back home on Monday. I have to say, Christmas was a little sad here. Since we didn't know we would be spending the entire holiday here, we had no tree, no decorations, nothing. We spent Christmas Eve with Joern's parents. Very quiet. We had würstchen and "special salad" which is a potato salad recipe from Schlesien, the area of Germany where Joern's dad was born. It is pretty tasty. After dinner, we watched Christmas Vacation in German, with Joern's parents. It was a rather enjoyable evening, even though I kept thinking of the ham sandwiches I was missing at Cheryl's.
On Christmas Day, Joern and I were pretty quiet. We went to Joern's parents' for Christmas Dinner, we had duck, dumplings, and sweet-and-sour red cabbage. Quite yummy. It was nice, and very quiet. Unlike home, where we rush between relatives on Christmas Day. But, I did miss home, and miss my dad, and the rest of the family.
We left for home on Monday morning, after running to the Rathaus (town hall) to get an alien registration form since I didn't have time to get my residency permit placed in my new passport.
The flight home was uneventful, and we arrived at 1:30 in the afternoon to find my cousin Bill and my cousin Katie's boyfriend waiting for us. I have to admit, it is always nice to see a friendly face when you get off the airplane. Makes you feel loved.
We were home for about 11 days. We spent a good portion of time with my dad, and my sister Ginia. We also spent some time with my aunt and cousins, but they were all sick, which was sad. It was ridiculously cold at home, so we decided to cancel our annual New York trip. Much too cold. We did manage to spend a great deal of time on Long Island though, at the outlets in Riverhead. We had dinner with my godparents, which was an enjoyable night, and we were able to talk about our upcoming trip to New Hampshire in February.
Of course, we made our obligatory restaurant stops too: Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Duchess, Bagel King, and the Cracker Barrel.
The time home flew by, and before we knew it, we were back in the airplane to fly home.
Of course, I haven't mentioned my back yet. A few years ago, I had the most horriffic experience with my back, all from sleeping in a bed that was far too soft. When were home this year, we were sleeping on an air mattress. I don't think we had the mattress properly inflated, and after a week, I could feel my back starting to rebel. I was getting nervous that the flight back would be miserable, but surprisingly, it was okay. It was the 2 hour car ride back from Frankfurt that was the beginning of the end. My back has now been miserable for a week. I went to the doctor on Monday, and he gave me a shot, perscribed some pain meds and muscle relaxers, and wrote me out of work for a week. Now, its Friday, and I can't say things have improved at all. Its been a miserable week. I feel good and would love to get back to the kids and my friends at work. I have an appoinment again with the doctor in about an hour. I hope he can help!

My passport story

Joern and I had a great Christmastime this year, and I can't believe we're already so far in to 2010, but I guess I have some time now, so why not catch up?
Our break started on Dec. 18th this year, with a little drama. My passport had expired on Nov. 30th 2009. I was a good little girl when I was home this summer, getting the proper passport pictures. When I got back to Germany, I immediately filled out the paperwork for passport renewal. Then, I realized that the passport photos I got were incorrect because they did not show my ears. So, it took us a while to find a photo store here that knew the requirements for US passport pictures. Once I got the pictures, I bundled up all the documents to send in the paperwork. Then I realized that I needed my passport to get my driver's license. This was in October. Once I got my license, I then realized that my bank card (which was then my only credit card) had been cancelled, and I needed to call my dad and send me my new bank card. I finally got my bank card at the end of October. Then we realized that I couldn't find an official marriage certificate, without which, I could not change the name on my passport. I finally got everything together, and sent my passport out for renewal the week before Thanksgiving- giving me 6 weeks till Christmas.
I started to get nervous the week before my Christmas break, somewhere around the
15th, when I still didn't get my passport. The embassy website clearly states that if you do not have 3 weeks to wait for a passport, then you should not renew by mail. I was working on 5 weeks at this point. I finally decided to call the embassy, during their calling hours on the 21st, my first day of break. Turns out that they have specific calling hours, all of which were during my work day, so I had to call when I was on break. When I called, they were able to track my passport. It was in New Orleans? Well, in transit from New Orleans. Seriously? I thought the whole point was that they did the passport there at the embassy, obviously not. Oddly enough though, my bank card had been charged with a foreign transaction fee. Whatever.
So, I was told to call back on Tuesday, because it was possible that it would be sent back soon. On Tuesday, I called, again, during calling hours, to find out the passport had arrived, but they could not tell if it had already been sent out to me. But, they finally red flagged it, and I was told that I would be called on Wednesday morning by the person who sends out the passports.
I thought that they would call and tell us that they would hold the passport and we could pick it up on Thursday. Ha! On Wednesday morning, at 7:15, we received a call from the embassy, saying that I had until 12:00 noon to pick up my passport, otherwise, it would be placed in the mail. Because of Christmas, I would not receive my passport in the mail until sometime the week after Christmas.
So, we jumped in the car, and made the 2 hour drive, in the snow, up to Frankfurt. Once we got to the embassy, I had to wait in line to get a number, and Joern was not allowed to come in with me :( I had to wait about 30 minutes for my name to be called, and in about 5 more minutes, I was out the door with my shiny new passport.
I have to admit, it was a lot of hassle, but it is so ridiculously cool. Joern is convinced that it is the coolest passport in the world. I have to admit, you feel a swell of patriotism when you look through these new ones. Joern said it would be worth it to become a citizen just to get one too :) Of course, he won't, but its cool.
Because Joern was so nice, he took me for a Starbucks in Frankfurt center, on the main shopping throughfair, the Zeil. Afterwards, we did our Christmas shopping too, which was also a relief, because I was nervous about getting pressies for everyone at home before we headed home.
Although it was stressful, it was a good day, and I am so relieved to have my passport back.