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.

Dienstag, 29. Juni 2010

Saying "goodbye"

I love living in Germany. Ask anyone I've ever spoken with, and they'll agree, I love it here. One thing that I absolutely abhor though is one aspect of being a member of the "international" circle: saying "goodbye."
I don't have lots of friends here who are permanent. I do not work in a local school where kids stay in the same town their whole lives. Even our friends who German are moving away. Ugh!
Today at school, another family moved away. I started working with this family last year, and quickly discovered what an amazing daughter they have. I really grew to admire and respect their daughter last year. This school year, I was fortunate to have this little girl's sister in our class. Like night and day these two. While the older sister was quiter in groups, and rarely smiled, her little sister was like a party in a kid. Everything the little sister touched became fun. Little sister has an infectious smile, and a laugh that I hope will stay in my ears for a very long time. I remember one day, Little Sister found a piece of ribbon, and started dancing with it. She had so much fun with that ribbon, all by herself, as happy as a clam. Another day, in sport, we were listening to music and running around. All the kids were running with determination, while I was trying to get them to relax a bit and dance. Then came Little Sister, who danced with me for a super long time. No typical hand-holding kid and teacher dance, but real, free, let-yourself-go-to-the-music dancing. Little sister brightened the room every day, and made me smile even in the toughest of times. It was hard to say "goodbye" to Little Sister and her family today. I have watched the entire family grow up, and have come to realize the amazing people that are now a very strong family. I will miss Little Sister and Big Sister every day at school from now on. The school has lost a little light with the leaving of these two girls.
After school, I met up with my friend Mandy. Over the years, Mandy has become not only one of my very closest friends, but also has really become family to me. I met Mandy while working on base about 6 years ago. I think I introduced myself by saying, "Hi, I'm Allison, and I'm desperate for a friend." Mandy definately has filled that job well. We spent lots of time together both at work and outside of work. We traveled to Ireland and Istanbul together. We have known each other for so long, we know so many details of each other's lives. I also feel like we've watched each other grow up. When Mandy moved here, we were two girls in our early 20s, trying to deal with life, especially life overseas. I've watched Mandy deal with loss, saddness, and wonderful happiness. She has done the same with me. I was so honored that Mandy asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and months afterward, I still feel a gush of pride that I could stand up with Mandy on her wedding day. Mandy is moving to Wiesbaden, Germany, after being my constant friend for 6 years. I am so thankful that she isn't moving too far away, yet felt that familiar sense that things will change, my good friend is moving.
After our meeting with Mandy today, Joern told me that he made dinner plans for us on Friday. His cousin, Marc Philip and his wife, Ellie, are moving to Ireland. Joern has such a strained relationship with most of his family, and he no longer talks to most of his cousins. He only met Marc Philip 2 years ago, despite the fact that he lives in our town. We went over to Marc and Ellie's house one night last year, and had a lovely time. They told me all about their many travels to Ireland, and I instantly felt a connection with them. I was so relieved to meet a "normal" family member of Joern's, and encouraged Joern to spend more time with Marc, who is such a nice guy. Unfortunately, as life can be, we were busy, and tired, and haven't seen Marc and Ellie for a year. Joern's dad told Joern last night that Marc and Ellie are moving to Ireland next week. Finally, Joern took the intiative to call Marc Philip today, and we now have plans to enjoy a farewell to Germany dinner with Marc and Ellie on Friday.
Having grown up in a pretty stable community, living in the same house until I went to college, moving was never a part of my world. I never realized the change that was going to take place in my life on the day I departed for my semester in Ireland. In the past 10 years, I have met some of the most interesting people. These people have enriched my life in ways I never thought possible. I know that I am luckier for having these people in my life, but the saying "goodbye," has not gotten easier with practice, I would almost say it has gotten harder.

Donnerstag, 24. Juni 2010

World Cup 2010

Don't ask me why this is my first post on my new obsession, the World Cup.
Every four years, FIFA, the International Football (Soccer) Federation, holds what is probably the most famous, and most watched world-wide, sporting event, the World Cup. Nations from seriously, all over the world, compete to fill 32 slots to eventually become the world soccer champions. Of course, this competition is HUGE here in Europe, as soccer is THE sport.
I first remember hearing about the World Cup in 1994 when it was held in the US. I really didn't pay much attention to soccer before then, and I probably only took notice of that World Cup for two reasons: 1. the US national team held a practice at our high school, 2. one of the German national players was a Kohler. That was about my only interest in the World Cup that year. You know, there was even a World Cup in France in 1998? I don't even remember hearing about that one. In 2002, it was held in South Korea. I remember that one. I remember that people were displeased about the way the whole competion was marketed. Germany came in 2nd that year, but I don't remember much hoopla.
The last World Cup, 2006, was huge! Germany hosted it, and well, what an amazing time to live in Germany. There was an energy in the whole country that I have never before experienced. You could feel this energy everywhere. Patriotism rose in Germany to levels people hadn't seen here in years. Scientists and researchers spoke constantly about a shift in the German mindset caused by the 2006 World Cup. Most importantly though, the US did pretty darn well. It was the first time I really took notice of the magnitude of this event.
Now, its 2010, and the World Cup is in South Africa. I'm working at an international school now, and quite cool, I know South Africans. I was already excited about this World Cup, but not totally prepared for its awesomeness. Germans have put their flags back outside, on their cars, on their car mirrors. At work, in the parking lot, you can find cars with German flags, South African flags, Mexican flags, Dutch flags, English flags, and a few US flags. On the first day of the World Cup, which happened to be my birthday, it was so cool to see kids in the soccer jerseys of their home countries. In sport class, we had a Dutch jersey, a German jersey, and a Mexican jersey. So cute, and so very cool! And Germany, it seems to have returned to nearly the same energy that was present 4 years ago. The World Cup is the highlight of every conversation, German flags are EVERYWHERE, and you can feel the air tingle with excitement.
I'm supporting 3 teams this year, Germany, the US, and Mexico. All three have advanced now from the Knock-Out rounds, and are into the playoffs.
We have watched most games, South Africa is in the same time-zone. I excitedly watch Mexico in the opening game, tie with South Africa. I was so happy to watch Germany beat Australia 4-0, and sad to hear that Germany lost 0-1 to Serbia. What has been most impressive for me though, has been the US team. I am constantly impressed with the talent on our national team. Soccer is not a nationally adored sport in the US. In other countries, the people get behind the national team, and hold them as heroes. It seems half of the people in the States don't even know what's going on right now with our soccer team. Our team is really good. We tied England in our fist game, which was a huge feat, considering England is a favorite to win. Our second game, against Slovenia was heartbreaking, as we absolutely won the game, yet a poor judgement call on behalf of the referee resulted in a tie instead of a win for the US. Last night was one ginormous nail-biter. We had to win the game in order to advance to the Round of 16, meaning we have advanced already to the top half of World Cup contenders. In 90 minutes against Algeria, there was no score. It surely looked like we were done. Then in the 91st minute, during injury- time, Landon Donovan scored the winning goal! It was amazing!
And then, two hours later, the German team scored one goal against Ghana, bringing them too into the Round of 16, or as Germans call it, the 8th Finals. So exciting!
Celebratory fireworks could be heard outside last night, as Germany advanced. After the game, I went outside for a little air. To one of the most awesome experiences ever, the air was completely filled with the sound of fireworks and Vuvuzelas, the hated horns that are staples of South African soccer. I wish I could have recorded the sound in the neighborhood, which I am certain, was the sound in the entire country last night. And then, I wish I could have recoded my feeling at that moment, to be a witness to the feeling here. It was definately one of those moments that made me feel small and thankful to be a part of something so very, very big!

Sonntag, 20. Juni 2010

Birthday Recap

My birthday ended up to be so full of surprises, I was left feeling so loved that I know 31 will be a great year!

The week of my birthday was ridiculously busy, which left me exhausted by Wednesday night. Joern and I try really hard to stay awake until midnight on our birthday, usually to celebrate with a glass of Champagne. This year, by 11:30, I could not keep my eyes open any more. Joern sweetly woke me up at midnight, and softly said, "Happy Birthday, its time for bed."

On Thursday morning, I entered work to the sweetest, kindest birthday greeting. Each child brought in some flowers to me and said, "Happy Birthday, Ms. Allison."
Oh, the flowers were so beautiful! Some had taken flowers from their garden. I am especially in love with peonies this year, and was so excited to receive pink and white peonies from a few students. I also received a few lush bouquets, including 6 gorgeous white roses!

A few students brought me individual gifts, which was also so sweet. Lots of chocolate, a little teddy bear, a keychain, and a bottle of delicious looking sparkling wine all came from the students :) The entire day the kids kept giving me hugs, it was all so sweet.

We celebrated in school with my now famous Pink and White Cupcakes, as well as delicious watermelon slices.

The rest of the day was just fun. My friend Setefanie, who I used to assist, came down to our room with the most beautiful market basket.

I am so excited to now have a traditional market basket to use during our market outings! My friend Iris gave me the most yummy smelling body spray and a pink eye mask, which came in perfect when my exhaustion took over on Thursday night. Joern is even excited to try the eye mask because it has cooling gel in it, he thinks it will be great when he has a headache. The teacher I currently assist, Carola, gave me a beautiful basket with some fresh herbs and a blue and yellow checked table runner.

Everyone's kindness was amazing and my birthday at work was just wonderful. And then, at the end of the school day, all of the parents assembled in our classroom to sing "Happy Birthday," and to present me with a Mickey Mouse cake (sadly, no picture,) as well as two beautiful, gigantic candleholders. I will post a better picture when I go down in our basement, but you can see the gigantic wine glass looking candleholder in the back of the flowers here:

The candleholders are close to two feet tall, and look like wine glasses. They are dramatic and dainty all at once! And will look fabulous on the terrace in the summer, and will make a very dramatic centerpiece on our new dining room table. I spoke with the mom who was put in charge of getting me the candleholders, she was told by the parents that we are building a house, and she should get something we can use in the house. I told her about the fact that the candleholders will actually look perfect on our very chunky dining table, and she told me how much she likes sentimental gifts- a woman after my own heart! Every time I use those candleholders, I will remember JrKb, the wonderful kids and their kind parents!

Of course, my birthday did not end when I left work. There were still more suprises. After spending half an hour walking back and forth loading my car from work, I headed home. Joern called me and said that I should meet him at his parents' house. They had Champagne (yes, our trip to Reims last year, had a positive impact on our celebratory drinking,) and cake for me.

The beautiful, St. Honore cake was a huge surprise, proving Joern is really the sweetest guy on earth. After finding out that French grocery stores have amazingly beautiful cakes and pasteries, I have been hounding Joern to get me a bithday cake from France for years. Two days before my birthday, Joern came home with tons of food from France, as he was near the border and decided to go grocery shopping. He came home with Macarons, another delightful French pastry, but no sign of a birthday cake. I even said to him, "It would have been really nice if you bought my birthday cake there." Joern responded, "You're right. Sorry, I didn't think." It made me melt to find that he had indeed bought the cake in France, and hid it at his parents' house. My in-laws even used the opportunity to try out their special candle from China, that after being lit, the petals open up, a sparkler shoots out from the middle, and it plays "Happy Birthday." A really fun surprise!

After cake and Champagne with my in-laws, Joern and I headed to Zwiefalten, to a brewery begun by monks many, many years ago. The brewery serves yummy food, and of course, yummy beer! It was a wonderful birthday dinner!

I am so thankful to everyone who helped to make this birthday so special. It makes me excited to think of the upcoming year! Thank you everyone!

Donnerstag, 10. Juni 2010

Goodnight to 30

I have about an hour and a half left of 30, soon, I will be 31. I remember turning 29, and being so upset about turning 29, knowing that 30 was right around the corner. When I was 29, 30 seemed to be just old. When I turned 30, I was surprised that it wasn't half as scary to me as turning 29.
I enjoyed being 30. I awoke on the morning of my 30th birthday looking out to the Eiffel Tower. I am so thankful to Joern that he helped to make this big year so special. We had a wonderful birthday weekend, even though we had to return to Paris a few weeks later for a delayed birthday dinner cruise.
The year was good. We traveled home twice, and I got to spend time with old friends. I also spent a lot of time with my cousin Elizabeth, which was so much fun!
Work was okay this year. I worked hard over the summer on my teaching certification, and then had to put it on hold again. It is in work that I notice how much I've grown up. I am much more confident in how I deal with the kids, and my colleagues. I am getting better at advocating for myself, and for the kids at ISS.
In October, I passed my German driving exam, a big accomplishment! And then, I bought a car.
We said "goodbye" to Marcel, as he moved to Switzerland. We see him about once a month now, but his moving has surely changed things for us. Life at our apartment was much quiter, and 30 saw us sleeping though the weekend nights.
30 also saw the closure of my mother's estate, and with that, true closure with mom. I missed my mom a lot this year.
30 was a big year because we planned our house. Today, we even received our address!
Most importantly though, I feel like I've become much more confident in who I am. I feel good with my life, and of course, I am so proud of the relationship I have with Joern. We really have created a very strong, and special marriage.
Tomorrow morning, I will wake up for my last birthday in our apartment. I know that 31 is destined to be a very exciting and memorable year!

Donnerstag, 3. Juni 2010

To Market, To Market

We went to the market in Nürtingen this past Saturday. Like that of the week before, it was such a pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. Making things all the better, the weather was pleasant for a change. Again, we came home with some wonderful produce and meats. I love markets!

This time, we came home with some incredible strawberries, white and green asparagus, chicken, duck (again,) eggs, and purple kohlrabi. Oh, and a wonderful piece of salmon, which I poached in some white wine and served with the beautiful mixed greens we bought too at the market. Its Thursday, and we're still eating from our market purchases. Economically, it makes sense for us, because we're eating everything we buy, and not throwing much away.
We're planning on going to the market again on Saturday, and well, we'll see what we come home with! Maybe its time to purchase a Market Basket :)