Lichterserenade

Currently we’re drowning in packing boxes, much like when we moved overseas a year ago. However, we are trying to take breaks from all the madness whenever possible to enjoy our last days in Bavaria.

Last night we were able to attend the Lichterserenade (Serenade of Lights) on the Danube. After learning that the event happens at nightfall, we assumed our kids would never make it. But it was too hot to sleep in our sweltering apartment, so we decided to give it a go and joined the masses of people collecting along the riverbanks.

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It was exciting to see the lit riverboats begin to approach.

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Each of these traditional Ulm vessels was loaded with people traveling upstream. Unfortunately, after that it was a looooong wait for darkness to come. Sam and I found a seat atop a wall near the river path. But, despite Lucy’s late nap that day, she was unable to sit still and demanded that Joe walk her up and down the trail to look at all of the activity. At about 10:30, we finally were rewarded for our patience with some fireworks.

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The fireworks show lasted a couple of minutes, before the barge traveled further down the river and performed again downstream. So we were able to see the show twice as it happened on either side of where we sat.

At the same time, small red and orange lanterns began floating towards us. They were very pretty, but hard to photograph due to their dimness.

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That was the best I could manage. We didn’t last much longer before the kids were too hungry and tired to stay out anymore. But we were grateful to have been able to witness this beautiful ceremony before we travel back home next week.

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.

2 (!) weeks to go…

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The end-of-July deadline is barreling at us more quickly than we are prepared for.

It feels at times like we are making a lot of progress and at other times like we’ll never get it all done.

A million thanks for all of the amazing family and friends who have helped us or offered help — your support means more than anything to us in this crunch time.

And Joe hasn’t yet gotten [too] fed up with my anxiety level and snippiness. I knew when we met that I’d found an amazing friend and future partner! I’m working on not letting the stress get the better of me, but it’s not always easy.

The house we have owned for 10 years is officially on the market (*fingers crossed*) and the storage unit is slowly filling up with all of our stuff (which has been multiplying like wet Gremlins behind our backs).

Now we just have to cross off the other 45 items on our to-do lists.

I’ll stop complaining and posting more interesting pictures and Germany/America cultural comparisons soon, pinky swear!

Cleaning up

Selling a house is hard work.

I know everyone always says that, but it’s like raising small kids: until you’re actually experiencing the stress and difficulty yourself it’s hard to understand.

I’m glad that we’ve been forced to do this on a deadline — otherwise it’d be too tempting to just give up on selling the house and wait another year. Not that another year would help. We’ve been saying we were going to clean out the garage since we moved in here ten years ago. And there are still boxes in the garage that have never been unpacked! Some were easy to throw away, but others contain priceless family heirlooms. 

Why is it that we have such a hard time keeping up with the basic maintenance while we are living here? It took us this long to have the high windows washed and the carpets cleaned. Embarrassing. I used to clean the tops of the kitchen cupboards at least every year, but somewhere along the way of working more and having children I stopped doing even that.

Oh well. Lesson (hopefully) learned. Maybe we can form some good habits in our small apartment in Germany and do a better job of keeping up with the clutter and grime in the next home we buy.

Joe and I appear to thrive under pressure. We planned our wedding in nine weeks, and have only ten weeks between the date we accepted this job offer and our flight departure. I just hope we can find a buyer for this house before we leave.