Schwäne

Did you know that there are wild swans swimming in the Danube?

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We often see them on our walks along the riverfront. It’s a pretty neat sight for me, since swans were a rare sight in my childhood. These swans don’t seem to be migratory, because they’re happily swimming and flying around even in the sub-freezing temperatures we’re currently experiencing. Perhaps they are well fed by the Ulm citizens and don’t wish to travel.  Our kids do certainly love to try calling out to the swans and ducks and trying to converse with them in “quacks”.

The cold makes it harder to venture out of our cozy apartment. I’m much less inclined to bring Lucy out for a little exploratory wander when her nose turns red from cold and her hands turn into stiff white icicles. That combined with the school syndrome — Sam in his first year of public school is bringing home every illness that crosses his path and then sharing them with Lucy. It’s going to be a long cold & flu season for our family.

This all affects the blog because it means less photo opportunities. But I’m still running way behind on some posts, so in the upcoming days and weeks I hope to publish some of our photos from the last few months. And perhaps a video, if I can figure out how! So stay tuned…

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Ach du lieber Himmel

Everything moves more slowly in Germany. We’ve struggled to be patient and adapt to the slower pace. It’s even more challenging when we can’t just call a customer service number for assistance, because they usually don’t have any English speakers to communicate with us. Our internet modem was supposed to take a week to arrive in the mail. No such luck. After three calls to the company by a bilingual HR staff member at Joe’s school, we were able to finally get a modem sent to us in the mail. Sorry that it’s taken so long! We’re slowly catching up now on emails, paying our bills online, and trying to set up all of the other needed German services (bank cards, cell phone contracts, utilities, and registration papers).

Well, we thought that parenting two kids was hard.  But try uprooting said kids, moving them halfway around the world, staying in one-bed hotel room for 12 days, then move them and all your belongings into a 4th-story walk-up!

We are very happy to be out of that tiny hotel room. But we do miss being in the center of the city where there were more shops and restaurants open late into the night and on Sundays. Our current residential neighborhood is much more removed from all of those conveniences.

We miss our hotel elevator! Climbing 84 stairs every time we take out the trash is pretty hard. Not so bad on its own, but we didn’t factor in that we’re usually carrying Lucy, a diaper bag, and several bags worth of groceries when we return home.

We love having a washing machine again. And a fridge, although it’s European-style and much smaller than we’re used to.

We were thrilled when the kids’ beds were delivered from Ikea on August 22nd – we were all pretty tired of sharing one bed.

We love being one bus-ride away from the center of the city. There are four bus lines that pick up from our nearest stop, so we never have to wait very long. Many of Joe’s coworkers have to ride multiple buses or walk a longer distance to get to a stop that will take them where they need to go. Lucy loves the bus too; she cries whenever we get off!

Shopping at Ikea without a car is quite hard!  I’ve made four trips so far, each time coming home on the bus with 3 or 4 overflowing blue Ikea bags. You should see the snickers and stares of the other bus riders as I try to navigate the narrow aisles with my purchases. But although we bought the furniture from the previous owners of this apartment, we arrived three weeks ago with nothing more than some sheets and towels. It took 4 days to buy knives, cutting boards, and pots, and 6 days to finally get some silverware and plates to eat on.

Joe’s been spending as much time as possible at the school, but he wasn’t given much prep time to get prepared before the school year began. We’ve managed to find most of the school supplies Sam needs, minus a few of the bits of clothing required for inclement weather. More posts about the school will be forthcoming.

I’ll try to post more pictures and videos of our new home and neighborhood soon.

Nesting…and un-nesting

I’m already falling off of the blogging bandwagon.  I Hope that in Germany without the distractions of work and TV that I’ll find a little more time to keep up.

We are pulling together all the myriad details required to move a family of four overseas. We have had an army of service pros marching through our house trying to make it more appealing to buyers. I just wish little Lucy would understand that we don’t enjoy having crackers crushed into our cleaned carpets and raspberries blown onto our freshly washed windows! The wall of packed boxes is increasing in our basement, and we are itching to start hauling off most of the packed stuff to long-term storage so the house won’t seem so cluttered.

Progress is slow on our contracts, visas, and residency permits, but we do have one encouraging bit of news. An apartment has been arranged by the HR department at Joe’s school, and it’s truly perfect for us. Joe had been looking online for furnished apartments and the prospects were pretty dismal. But (*fingers crossed*) we’ll be able to move into this apartment shortly after we fly to Germany on July 31st. Even more, it’s only a 3-minute walk from the school.

We accepted the offer to teach in Germany only one short month ago, and how greatly our lives have been changed!

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