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, 21. Oktober 2010

Trip Planning

I've been keeping myself relatively busy lately by planning our next trip.  I love planning trips, almost to the point of it being a little crazy. Having grown up in America, I used to be a proud travel crammer.  I would pour through travel guides, not reading the history, but instead look for the most important sites to see.  We were the classical wake up at 6 am, pack in a day, and pass out at 10 pm family. For me, travel was all about the destination, get there, see everything, and go home.
When I met Joern, my view of travel was completely rocked.  During our first week together, one night, Joern said, "I want to go somewhere special tomorrow, so we'll need to leave at 4 am."  Obviously, he knew our destination, but that was about it.  Imagine my surprise when we drove over a bridge to the parking garage in Venice!  I was thrilled and upset at the same time.  I hadn't done any research beforehand.  I didn't know what I had to see.  It was so strange.  Instead of having an itinerary, we parked the car, and walked around.  We stopped for a few cappuccinos along the way, talked, and watched people.  It was then I learned that Joern's version of travel is not to see all the sites, but to slow down, drink a cappuccino and watch life happen.  For Joern, the travel is all about the journey.  Joern most definately prefers to drive everywhere, because for him, half of the enjoyment is the things you see on the way to your destination.
Over the years, we have found ourselves a merry medium.  We drive to most places, and if not, we rent a car as soon as we arrive.  I still research, making a list of places that I really want to see, and then realize that we might not get to see everything on my list, and its okay.  If I die before seeing Michangelo's Statue of David its really okay, because at least I have been to Florence and experienced the people, the food, and the life there, which allowed me to take away a lot more than just rushing to one museum to look at one piece of art. 
In preparation for our next trip, I have tried again to achieve a balance.  We're off to Ireland, which makes me so happy.  Ireland is the one part of my life that up until now, I haven't been able to share with Joern.  So, we've booked our flight, hotel in Dublin, and surprisingly, we will not even rent a car for our first two days in Dublin. I know that I want to show Joern where I lived, where I went to school, and our pub.  I have one place that I would really like to get to, the Kilmainham Gaol, although it has a rather grim history, it also serves as a historical reminder of  Ireland's past.  Oh, and I'd like to eat in, shame on us, TGI Friday's. On the third day of our trip, we will head back to the airport to pick up our rental car, for the relatively unplanned portion of our trip.   Our ultimate goal is to get to the west of Ireland to visit Joern's cousin and his wife. I'm reviewing a little historical information too.  Otherwise, I am just going to let the trip take us.  I've learned to appreciate the fantastic memories created by turning off the main road, or avoiding the tourist attractions. 
I am so looking forward to this upcoming trip, and already am looking forward to writing all about it!

Mittwoch, 20. Oktober 2010

All By Myself

Despite all the weird things that go on in my life, I have to say that I am a pretty spoiled girl.  Appealing to my only child sensibilities, I love the fact that Joern rarely has to travel for business.  Since we've been together such a long time now, I have developed a pretty happy routine at home, and Joern is almost always here at night.  Probably because I have never lived alone, I am not used to the times when Joern isn't here.  Well, I bet by now you can guess where this post is headed.  Yup, Joern is in Hong Kong for a few days.  I'm glad, he'll already be home on Sunday, so we're down two days, and have 3 more to go. 
This trip comes at a time which I wouldn't say is the best.  I'm still home from work, but at least I am finally feeling better.  So, I figured that one thing that I can do to help pass the time is by cooking foods that I love, that Joern won't really eat. :)
Last night, I had the most delicious piece of salmon, cooked in a garlic white wine sauce.  Amazing!
Tonight, shrimp stir-fry with brown rice.  Delish!

Tomorrow is a goat cheese salad.

Dinner certainly doesn't take the place of Joern, but I certainly have to say that my dinners are adding a little luxury to my being alone.

Freitag, 15. Oktober 2010

October 15

Today is a day I never thought I would be able to claim as my own.  Sadly, here I am. 
Today is October 15, and it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Rememberance Day. 

Eight days ago today was the most terrifying day of my life.  This October 15th, my body is healing, and I think my emotions are healing too.  I think the biggest emotion I have towards the experience is fear.  Right now, Joern and I both talk about the loss of the baby, and the sadness involved.  But, when we get to talking about hopes for the future, they are riddled with fear.  What if it happens again?  The thought of going through the same thing is horrible.  I know the doctors said that my right tube is healthy, but there is still a possibility of this happening again.  I know that more than anything I want to be a mom, and I'm pretty sure Joern feels the same way, but I am not ready yet emotionally.  I'm hoping with time that things will change, that our fear will turn into hope and strength. 

I am so sorry for all the other women who have gone through this.  I am sorry for all the husbands who have had to stand by helplessly through the tears, the pain, and the fear.  I have hope for all who have suffered losses that you too will one day be a parent.  I have hope for myself too, just not quite yet.

Dienstag, 12. Oktober 2010

Small town, Germany

I don't often talk about Neckartailfingen here.  I don't know why, its my second home.  After almost 9 years here, I fully embrace two homes.  I am from Fairfield.  I love Fairfield.  I go there to recharge my batteries, relive memories, and remind myself of my roots.  Fairfield is the beach, old America, a family-centric suburban large town, that is slightly snobby.  I live in Neckartailfingen.  I love Neckartailfingen.   I laugh at Neckartailfingen. Neckartailfingen is my present and some of my future.  Neckartailfingen is farming country, with a view of the mountains, most characteristically to me though, small town.
Having grown up in Fairfield, my normal was a city sized town.  As of 2005, Fairfield had 57,813 residents spread over an area of 30 square miles (77.8 square kilometers.)  Fairfield is big.  If you asked me to name all the neighborhoods in Fairfield, I couldn't.  There is Southport, Greenfield Hill, Tunxis Hill, the Project (embarassing that we call it that, I know,) Beach Road, Sherman, Jennings district, Stratfield, Sasco, Fairfield Center, the area around Fairfield U, Holland Hill.  I'm sure there are more.  I was used to a town center that included two town halls, a town green, as well as a rather long shopping street.  There were a few prominent familes in the town, but most often, people got to know each other based on the neighborhood, most often based on schools.  I would bet that most Fairfielders don't know each other. I was one of th most well-known in the school circle, because my mom was a secretary in the Board of Education, so many town politicians, and most teachers knew my mom.  I was Kathy's daughter, and I was a bit of a well-known. This was my normal.
I have now moved to Neckartailfingen, population 3.777 spread over 3.6 square miles (8.3 square kilometers.)  My small college had a larger student population.  There are threeneighborhoods in Neckartailfingen, the Neubaugbeit (the new built area, homes from the late 1990s on,) the Vorstadt (the Outskirts,) , and our future neighborhood, the most oddly named, the Flecken (the Stain.)  There are a few prominent families, and everyone is related to at least one of them.  Everyone in Neckartailfingen knows everyone else.  I am a well-known here too.  Here, I am the American married to Joern.  I am exotic here.  Although everyone who lives here has relatives in America,  there are only about 3 Americans in the town married to Neckartailfingers.  We are a unique breed here.  This is Joern's normal, and so very far away from my normal.
I often giggle about the small town life here.  Most people living here have never lived anywhere else, for generations. The Stueckle family, Joern's maternal grandfather, is one of the oldest families in Neckartailfingen.  I don't mean oldest like 3 generations, I mean oldest like forever.  But, I guess they were a bit rebellious, the Stueckle's. Joern's grandfather already rocked the town by marrying Joern's grandmother, a farmer girl from Wittlingen on the Swabian Alb (the mountains in our area.) Joern's mother continued the break in tradition when she married my father-in-law, who was as a child, a refugee whose mother escaped Russian-occupied Poland, with her children, after the war.  Joern went one step further and married someone from another country, even another continent.  This is not how it works here.  But, I guess it sure makes for juicy gossip.
Juicy gossip is serious stuff here in Neckartailfingen.  I've had to learn to laugh at it, or I would be annoyed, afterall, the entire town is talking about us.
Here are a few examples of the juicy gossip flying around us in recent days.
The latest news going around the regular's table at the sport club is that my father-in-law used our building crane to remove one of the plum trees bordering our property. 
The town doctor heard that Joern and I are building a gigantic house.  She cornered my mother-in-law last week to ask all about the plans for our house, most probably because we have taken a bit of the spotlight away from her house.
And my favorite, Joern's great-aunt, who we haven't spoken with in a few years, walked up to Joern the other day and said, "I heard your wife got furniture from America, and that it came in a container the size of a truck!"

Obviously, in this small town, we're big news.  I think it is so funny, albeit, a bit disturbing.  We have no private life.  Of course, neither does anyone else in Neckartaifingen!

One day, we'll have children, who will grow up betwen our two normals.  I find it so interesting.

Montag, 11. Oktober 2010

Ready to put this all behind us

Today was my first full day home from the hospital. All it takes is a good health scare to realize how good life is, and a few nights in the hospital to make you appreciative of your tiny apartment.

I had to have surgery on Thursday to remove not only an ectopic pregnancy, but also to remove the entire tube in which the pregnancy was located.  Although I was quite impressed with the level of care I received at the hospital, including the fact that despite being insured through the compulsory insurance I was able to stay in a private room and Joern was allowed to stay with me, I am so happy to be home.

I am trying really hard to take it easy, and let it go.  My belly button hurts like mad and the one vein in my left arm that gives blood is on strike.  I have this week off from work again, and am hoping to use it to catch up on some reading and maybe some scrapbooking.  I am just going to try really hard to look to the future. 
Joern has been so incredible through this all, and helped ease the horror of the past few weeks.  I hope to help him put this all behind him too.

Being at home really helps.  We're talking a lot about the future, next week, next month, and next year.  Right now, we're not really discussing the past.

I hope to thank every person who has showed kindness to us during this difficult time.  I am so  thankful to everyone!

Samstag, 2. Oktober 2010

The fun of living in southern Germany

Thank you readers for your kind comments on yesterday's post, and thank you to all those who have emailed me separately.  Having kind people in your life really helps to ease the pain in difficult times.  Your kind words and thoughts will most certainly not be forgotten!

I am feeling better today, my cramping is pretty much gone.  So, Joern and I headed out to an electronics store to purchase a new refrigerator for our  apartment.  Ours has been on its way out for a few months, and we felt like today was just the time to buy a new one. 

What made me smile the most today, was the tractor that pulled alongside of us:

Yup, that's a tractor filled with cabbage!  And no, we're not in the middle of a farm, this is across the street from the Stuttgart airport!  I love Germany!

Freitag, 1. Oktober 2010

Some words about the German healthcare system

I know healthcare is a controversial topic, especially in the States.  Joern and I often end up in long discussions when we are home with people about universal healthcare, and how it works here in Germany.  Many arguments against universal healthcare are long waiting times, lower technology, lower quality medical care.  I have also heard quite a few people mention that Europeans have sub-standard medical care.  Having dealt with arthritis while living here, I would not agree that I am receiving substandard care.  I see my rheumatologist every six weeks, take Enbrel, and have monthly blood work for monitoring.   I pay out of pocket 10 Euro per quarter as a co-pay, not to each doctor, 10 Euro per quarter period.  I also pay 5 Euro per perscription, this means that my ultra-expensive medicine that I take for arthritis, I pay 5 Euro every 12 weeks.  If my prescription co-pays come to more than 10% of my income annually, I am no longer required to pay these co-pays.  If I lose my job, I am still insured the same way I am now.

This week I have dealt with another problem.  I lost a baby.  No, I'm not writing this to garner sympathy for what happened.  Really, I'm okay with it. I just feel strongly that people understand my German medical experience. 
I had bleeding on Tuesday at work, so I got scared, and called my OB-GYN.  I have not gone to this doctor before, and had my first appointment scheduled for October 13th.  She took me in right away when we told her about the bleeding.  She scheduled me in for 11:30, and at 11:40, she took me in.  She immediately did an internal ultrasound, and found nothing. The doctor responded to this very kindly, which was what I needed at that moment.  So, she sent me for blood work, and warned me that it might be an ectopic pregnancy, but she couldn't see anything certainly.  She called us the next day with the results of the blood work, and made another appointment for me on Friday.  Before leaving the office, she gave me a stern warning that if I should feel any pain in my lower abdomen, I should go to the hospital.
Last night, I started getting bad cramps and felt very dizzy.  Joern took me to the hospital.  They sent me immediately to the gynological ward, and I saw a doctor straight-away.  After he listened to the story, he gave me a urine test, which came out positive.  He then did an internal ultrasound, found nothing, and then did a blood test.  He told us to come back in 2 hours for the results.  2 hours later, another doctor had taken over the shift, and shared my blood test results with me.  He wanted to do another internal ultrasound, because he wanted to look at the situation for himself.  Again, nothing.  So, he gave me the paperwork for my OB-GYN, and sent me home, with the same warning that if I felt more pain, I should come in again.
10 Euro for the co-pay (there is a 10 Euro per quarter hospital co-pay as well,) and I was out the door.
This morning, it was back to the doctor, for another blood test and a visit.  She did another internal ultrasound, to see what things looked like today.  Again, nothing is there. It seems now to be a miscarriage and not an ectopic pregnancy. I will receive the blood test results this afternoon.
I have another blood test scheduled for Monday.  The doctor will continue to monitor the hormone levels in my blood until they reach zero again.
I am so pleased with the level of care I have received here in Germany.  The doctors have all squeezed me in, and have treated me kindly.  After speaking with my aunt, I learned that the doctors here treated me medically the same way that they would have done at home.
I feel comfortable here, and believe that I am receiving good medical care.  I am not saying that medical care is sub-standard at home, just saying that Germans too can trust in their healthcare system.