Monday, April 26, 2010

Radio silence.

We're about to move out of the free Internet hotel into an unhooked home. My understanding is that it takes a pretty long time to get service hooked up here, so blogging and communication in general will be sporadic for a while...

If there's a free connection somewhere, I'll find it! Until then...sushi out.


Day 29 (almost a month, omg!) was another day of post and paperwork. It was raining a little this morning, and without fenders or any sort of rain gear (besides my Liberty of London for Target rain boots that I've been dying to wear) we decided to catch a Wieselmobil over to post.

Here in Germany, there are regular taxis and then there are what I would call car services. You have to call the car services - you won't see them parked outside of hotels or trolling for fares - but they're almost half as expensive as a regular taxi.

Our driver was named Helmut and he was a total trip. He spoke a little English, but not much, and he was thrilled to have captive Americans. He told us all about how he adores country music (it's his favorite!) and pick up trucks and Idaho. He was hands down the most fun cab driver I have ever encountered. And the very first truck loving, hoedowning European I've met!

While we were on post, we popped in to the thrift store again and I picked up four hardcover books. I love having hardcovers but HATE paying full price for them. Of course, I then had to cart all four heavy, heavy books back on the bus to the first post and then back to the hotel. And now I have to find someplace to pack them so I can cart them to our house tomorrow. Maybe not the best timing...

I can't wait to get into our house tomorrow and start shooting pictures and sharing our new home with all of you!

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Another beautiful day in Germany, another excursion and lots of pictures! We wandered around Sindelfingen (the town housing our hotel) today, through the stadtmitte area and up to the Klostersee lake. We had a lovely picnic lunch and picked up some trash left behind by weekend partiers. As El Niño says, we have to take care of the Earth even when it's not Earth Day!

Sindelfingen Stadthalle
These remind me of cherry blossoms. When the wind blows a little, it feels like it's snowing. So pretty!

Sindelfingen, Germany. Martinskirche
The steeple belongs to Martinskirche (St. Martin's Church), the oldest building in town.

Sindelfingen, Germany

Klostersee, Sindelfingen
A view from a picnic.

Klostersee, Sindelfingen

Sindelfingen cat sign
Careful! Battle cat!

i-Punkt, Sindelfingen, Germany
Just a random government office. But, pretty.

Sindelfingen, Germany
Small private garden next to the lake.

Cheeseball making space for a tired Bug.

A few more photos from today on flickr. A perfect day all around.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Because it was another a-MAZ-ingly beautiful day in Germany today, we hopped a train up to Bad Cannstatt and went to the Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest (Spring Festival). It was bigger than I thought it would be, more carnival-y than I thought it would be, a little more rowdy than I thought it would be, and all in all even more awesome than I thought it would be.

We knew we were in for something a little wild when groups of en route to drunken guys kept getting on the train singing songs at the top of their lungs. We met up with some friends on the train, but I think we could have found our way to the festival without their help...just follow the people in dirndls and lederhosen with beers in hand.

The festival was the combination of traditional and modern that I see all over the place in Germany. You'll often see ultra modern architecture and medieval construction in the same space, and it's aesthetically very interesting and attractive.

Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest

On a side note, is that not the highest swing thing you've ever seen!? And check out this ferris wheel.

Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest

The safety rules seem to be completely different here, and if you're not a complete weenie (like, I'm sure it's a lot more fun. They don't seem to have any rules about what size children can do what or adaptive safety measures taken for small children swimming in large safety devices - the responsibility is with the parents to use their judgement and keep their own kids safe and I like that.

I also learned that each of the rides was individually operated by different families and/or companies, and I thought that was pretty cool, too. But, as much as we focused on the rides, for everybody else the focus was very clear.

Stuttgarter Frühlingsfest

Ha ha ha, we were heading out around 5:00 and things were really just getting started. I can't imagine how wild it gets as the night goes on!

Friday, April 23, 2010

You can dress the coffee up, but you can't take it out. Alright, you can.

Look what I made last night!

knitted coffee sleeve

I try not to use paper coffee cups, usually. But, I didn't think to pack a travel mug with us. I don't mind carrying the ceramic cups around the hotel, but once we head out to the park or for a walk, I've been using paper cups. Rather than add a cardboard sleeve too, I knitted a fuzzy sleeve. With a bow tie!

To knit the bow tie, I used a flower pattern and just knitted two "petals".

cast on 5 stitches
row 1: slip 1, knit 3. turn leaving remaining stitch unworked
row 2: purl 3, turn leaving remaining stitch unworked
row 3: knit 3, turn leaving remaining stitch unworked
row 4: purl 3, turn leaving remaining stitch unworked
row 5: knit 4
row 6: purl 2 together, purl 1, purl 2 together (3 stitches)
row 7: knit 1, knit 2 together and pass first stitch over to give 1 stitch on needle. Pull yarn through.

I tied together the two pulled through tails and voila! bow tie!

Linked on:

The Girl Creative



Cheeseball and I set off for post this morning, reams of paperwork in hand. I was a little nervous about riding the bike today, given how much my knee has been hurting. But the repetitive motion of pedaling actually seemed to snap something back into place and I'm left with nothing more than a big, ugly scrape and some residual swelling. MUCH better than limping up and down the stairs because any pressure on the knee in a bent position just about killed me.

I love biking here! The train and bus web site for the area has a bicycle route planner, that gives directions and indicates which portions of the trek are on auto streets and which are on strict bicycle paths. It also gives you an elevation profile, showing the ups and downs over the whole route and an overall total climb for the ride. I went on there to grab the profile for this route, to show you how CRAZY UPHILL it is but it tells me to go a different way. Because most people don't try to pedal straight up vertical inclines, particularly with giant trailers in tow. Lacking common sense, I chose the ridiculous route. Yay me.

Even without what Cheeseball calls The Mountain, the route planner reports you pick up about 243 feet over 2 1/2 miles. Which means you climb about 20 feet every 10 to 15 minutes. Insane, no? Now factor in the fact that - between solid little Cheeseball, the giant two person trailer I just had to have and all the crap we loaded in it - I'm pulling almost two-thirds of my body weight behind me. Like an ant. This means I'm a super hero and deserve a cape. Thank you. All I could think the whole way was THE RIDE HOME IS GONNA ROCK.

Once on post, we spent about 4 hours trekking from government office to government office blah blah boring. But, we'll be in our house on Tuesday!! We're all so excited to be out of the hotel and starting to settle in. I have so many crafty ideas I can't wait to get started on, I can't wait to start cooking again and I'm really looking forward to learning how to tend the garden that is now our responsibility. We'd call it a yard in the US, but here it's a garden. There are some pretty flowers in it, though, and I'm so excited about it!

All in all, things are really starting to come together and Germany is starting to feel like home! I will note, though, that the info I gave the kids the other day was not right. People are not, in fact, saying "cheers" here. They're saying tchüss, which means bye and is actually a lot closer to juice than cheers, so score one, kiddos.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


See below. That's not all I did today, but it's all I did of note.

Less chicken, more red.

I've made a few changes around here! Chicken Fried Sushi was a fantastic name and really fit me at a certain point in my life, but I've moved on and now so too must the blog. I'm still having a heck of a time differentiating between the German definite articles - die, das, der, den, dem, des - but I'm tossing das up there and hoping it sticks to sushi.

I also redesigned the whole look of the blog, inspired by and incorporating Japanese washi tape clipart created by Katrina of Pugly Pixel.

I put together a visual blogroll and I really like how it came out!

das Sushi blogroll

I think I first saw a blogroll that attempted to visually capture the essence of each linked blog on Decor8 and I've been wanting to put one together for a long time! Click through to check it out.

I combed through a few weeks back for things I really want and things I have and love and recommend and popped them all in to the das Sushi store. I, of course, earn a small commission on any items purchased through the store. So, if you're inclined to pick something up for yourself, feel free to shop my store! I'll keep refining and adding to it over time (and shopping. of course.)

I hope you like some of the changes! Let me know what you think!

Technorati tags: blog, redesign, Amazon

Doing some redecorating today.

It's gonna be a little schizophrenic around here. If you see something you like, speak up! Or it might disappear...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The big news of the day: WE GOT OUR APPROVAL BACK FROM HOUSING!! I am so, so, so, SO very excited!! Were it not for the suddenly bum knee, I would likely be executing clumsy cartwheels around the teeny tiny hotel room. If everything else in the process goes as scheduled (BIG IF), we should be in our new house on Monday!


Everything else I was going to say seems all small and unimportant now. But, that's never stopped me from blurting it out anyway.

We had to make a trip to the farther away post today because - apparently - making a routine eye appointment is a many step process that, several steps in, requires you to make an appearance in the healthcare administration office. Every time you make any kind of routine appointment off post. Which you have to do for anything related to eyes, teeth and who knows what else. I'm excited about this.

Cheeseball and I decided to pick El Niño up from school instead of riding the bus, so we had a few hours to kill until school got out. We wandered through the thrift shop and found what must be the most awesome book ever written.

Emergency First Aid for Cats

I'm glad I actually had my camera with me today (!!) because, really, who would believe me without photographic evidence? I know I wouldn't. I also bought a book called A Killer Stitch. It advertises itself as a knitting mystery. No, really. It promises a delicious recipe and knitting pattern included! with the book. The back cover teaser begins:

'Tis the season for knitters in chilly Fort Connor, Colorado: scarves, sweaters, mittens - and murder.
Ha ha ha, how do you NOT buy that book!? I don't know, I bought it. I'm not sure I'll actually be able to read it. I can barely slog through the back cover, which continues:

The House of Lambspun has been bombarded by holiday knitters. In the midst of overflowing bins of sumptuous yarn, an unexpected winter romance buzzes in chorus with the spindles of shy new spinning instructor Lacy Adair. But when a rancher is found dead in Bellevue Canyon, avid knitter and sometime-sleuth Kelly Flynn quickly puts festive pastimes aside.
Hmm. Awful, but I have to check it out. It's like when someone says, "oh god this tastes horrible, try it!" And then somehow you have to. Or I do. I have to know how bad it is! Same principle applies.

In other news, we are still adjusting to life in a foreign country. The kids asked me this morning what "juice" means.

I said, do you mean "how do you say juice in German? You say saft."

They said, "no, what does juice mean?"

"Well, I guess it means pulverized fruit mixed with water and often sugar."

"No, not that kind of juice."

"I don't really know any other kind of juice. Unless you mean power. Like, you could say 'give it some juice' when you mean, step on the gas."

At this point, El Niño was getting a little frustrated.
"Why does everybody say 'juice' when they're done talking to you!?"

"Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ha ha ha. No, they're saying 'cheers'! Just, with an accent."

"Oh, ok. What does cheers mean?"
Parenting. You have to be a fan of the circular. And also a fan of the element of surprise. Every time I've gone to upload the few pictures I've taken lately, I'm surprised to see my camera uploading 60+ pictures. Cheeseball has become a fan of the camera. All of her pictures fall into three categories; 1. pictures of her dog, 2. pictures of her toys, 3. pictures of her making funny faces. And most of them are either extreme close ups or extremely brief movies. I've tried to teach her the settings, but I think that's beyond a four year old and she always ends up on the movie setting.

Some come out suprisingly well shot.

Others are adorable, but somewhat lacking in composition.

I think I'll have to work with her to develop the interest and then maybe I'll feel less guilty about all the pictures I don't end up taking.

Technorati tags: photography, Germany, books

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I'm getting behind and confused again. I think yesterday was Day 23. After my tumble off the bike the day before, my knee has been hurting. And looks pretty disgusting. So, we stayed pretty close to home base for most of the day yesterday. We made little trips to the grocery store, the bus stop for El Niño, for Bug's potty breaks, to the park and that was about it. It was actually kind of nice to not be on the move all day, and I got some things done on the blog. Family members who have been tuning in to stay abreast of our Big Move will be bored pretty soon, because I'll be getting back in to the crafts and fashion and bento and general randomness that Chicken Fried Sushi has always been about. A name change is in the works (again), and I've put together a few things I'm pretty excited about posting. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Back to Day Dreiundzwanzig. Coming back to the overcrowded Marriott (which only had rooms available now due to the volcanic ash issues and subsequent cancellations), we had to pay the executive military discount rate. It's still within our daily allotted spending and the huge upside is access to the Executive Lounge on the top floor. They have a machine from which I can get waaaaaay too many milchkaffees in a day and Cheeseball can entertain her long lived dream of endless heisse schokolades (hot chocolates). They also serve cocktails and hors d'ouevres in the evening. Which we now call dinner. Tacky, huh? At first I was really hesitant to join the other families we know in the hotel who are doing the same thing. But, The Man reminded me that we're paying quite a bit extra per day for nothing more than access to that lounge. Might as well get our money's worth! Besides, a surprising number of well to do looking folks do exactly the same thing. So, breakfast and dinner are now free and lunch is not expensive. That's funds we can put toward some new furniture when we finally get to move in to a house!!

People are telling us we're crazy to be working so hard at getting in to a house. They think we should milk the travel pay, hotel amenities and free meals as long as we can. But, not only is that ethically wrong on the taxpayer's dime, I just can't wait to start settling in and making our home. CAN'T. WAIT.

Technorati tags: Germany, moving, hotel

Monday, April 19, 2010

Einundzwanzig und Zweiundzwanzing

We're back in America! Or at least the hotel that feels like it's in America and also in the current decade. The hotel we moved to was very European and also very, very eighties - which don't usually go hand in hand. So, I'm back to blogging.

First, a note from Outliers which I read recently. The author touched on the subject of varying math acheivement by culture, noting that in Asian languages, numbers have two key characteristics that enable math skills. The words are short, allowing children to say a bunch of numbers in the space of ten seconds, optimizing memory retention. Also, the numbers are spoken as if they are equations (forty six would be four tens and six), making it a lot easier to add. Four tens and six + three tens and two = seven tens and eight. Etc... German numbers are neither of these things and I wonder where Germans fall in the scales of math achievement.

That was apropos of nothing I suppose, but I'm finding it harder to remember the numbers I need for post titles these days.

Yesterday, we moved back to the old hotel. We came up to the hotel around 10:30 with a serious party going on out front. There was a huge, double decker bus, loud club music blaring, hundreds of people drinking beer and the entire baggage area of the bus stacked full of case after case of beer. And this is outside of a hotel that feels very much like a businessman/business convention hotel! The Stuttgart Frühlingsfest (Springfest) brings people in from all over I guess and we ran into a tour group about to head out to the festival. It made for a super fun return to the hotel!

Today, I finally bought my bike! I got the mid-range, no frills bike that I had always intended and is all I need. Once again, phew for the no mastercard/visa accepted policy at the spanky, giant bike store! After pushing Cheeseball in the giant two-person bike trailer that I just had to have for two and a half miles and NO JOKE straight uphill the whole time, I was so stoked to ride home. I thought maybe I was imagining the whole straight uphill the entire way thing until I really didn't have to pedal for most of the trip back. There were a few uphills on the way back, though, and I learned that I have almost nothing in the way of leg muscles. Sheeeew, Cheeseball and her giant trailer are heavy.

It was fun though! Right up until I ate it on the pavement, bare knee-ed. Ouch. Luckily, that was right in front of the hotel, so I just had to hobble the bike down in to the parking garage and call it a day. I'm seriously considering getting knee pads. Would that be extravagantly dorky?

Technorati tags: Germany, biking, festivals

Saturday, April 17, 2010


We had to move hotels today, since the one we were in was already booked today back when we checked in almost three weeks ago. There's no free wifi in this hotel, so Mein First 30 Deutsche Days will immediately become Some But Not All Of Mein First 30 Deutsche Days.

We went back to the big bike store today to finally actually pick up that bike and trailer we've been talking about for-ev-ver now. We picked out a trailer and somehow got talked in to a bike that was way more money than we had intended to spend. Once we got up to the cashier, they told us they didn't accept mastercard/visa's there. Germany is essentially a cash economy - nobody puts things on credit (which is awesome!) and very few people really even use debit cards. Germany bank debit cards are different than American ones, and don't run through the same system that credit cards do. We know that, and keep cash on us because of it, but it never occurred to us that a store whose average product costs €500+ wouldn't be hooked up to a card system!

So, we had to leave the store and hunt down an ATM. It's struck me as odd that in America, almost everybody uses cards but ATMs are EVERYWHERE. Every gas station, supermarket, etc... have one and they're often just randomly plopped down in the middle of parking lots. Here, everybody uses cash but Geldautomat's (ATM's) are freaking impossible to find. Germans are just much better at planning ahead, I guess.

While on the trek to the ATM, we came to our senses and decided not to buy the bike. We really did want that trailer, though. So, we headed back to pick it up. Cheeseball LOVES it. Maybe I'll actually remember my camera tomorrow and get a pic.

Technorati tags: Germany, bike trailer, money

Friday, April 16, 2010


I keep kicking myself while out walking about (which might be why my heel hurts so) because with the teeny little purse I've been schlepping, I never have my camera. Then I see awesome stuff like stoplights just for bicycles and the sight just has to stay inside my own brain. Unless I mooch off the more industrious people of the world who already did the work for me. Like this guy.

Bike lane IV
Photo by tillwe on Flickr

How cool is that? They don't have them at every traffic light, but in areas where there is extra heavy bike traffic, you see this. And I love them. Although, you kind of have to know they're going to be there and look for them. Much like most of the traffic lights here. They're not way up high and out in the middle of the intersection like they are in the states. In fact, when standing at the crosswalk and waiting to cross the road, you are looking directly at the side of them and don't get to obsessively check the light. As if that red circle might tell you more than the big red hand (which, here is a red dude or a red dude and a bicycle if the crosswalk is intended for both types of traffic).

The other interesting thing about traffic lights here is that when the light is about to turn green, the red light remains lit and the yellow one flashes on. Like it's telling you get ready to GO GO GO!. And people do. When we first moved to Fayetteville, we couldn't figure out why people just sat at green lights for-ev-ver. Until we realized that people don't stop at red lights. There, yellow meant hurry up! and red meant ok just you, guy, and maybe you too then everybody else better stop. Here, people stop and then they GO. And if you don't, they honk. (Even though I just learned on my Driving In Germany While Tangentially Affiliated With The Army License test that honking is expressly prohibited within city limits for all but the most dire circumstances. Apparently, 1 -2 seconds of green light neglect is a dire circumstance.)

In other news, I got our VPN service operational and we're able to watch American TV online, now. I've been binging on Ugly Betty and I'm sure The Man and I will get all caught up on 24 and Fringe in the next week or so.

Technorati tags: Germany, biking, TV

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Siebzehn unt Achtzehn

At least I think I'm chronicling (does that word look weird or what?) Days 17 and 18. I skipped a day and now I'm all confused. Maybe I skipped two days...? Who knows. I have to count on El Niño to keep track of the days of the week for me, but I don't have a handy blog helper.

Yesterday (Day Siebzehn? Maybe...?), we met with the realtor and our landlord to draw up the tenancy contracts so we'll be all set if and when we get that approval from Housing to live off post. I'm still getting used to Germans and I kept thinking the landlord was angry until he'd finish what seemed like a huffy tirade in German and then smile at me. ?? Different body language, different tonal sounds and I don't understand the words, so really I was lost and mildly concerned through most of the meeting.

We spent the rest of the afternoon in our usual routine...picked up some dinner from the store, hit the bakery, swam in the pool. Well, the kiddos swam and I knitted. While not in the pool.

I was again surprised at how cheap it is to eat here. I went to the grocery store and bought a big bottle of water (no gas!), a decent bottle of wine, a bottle of balsamic vinegar, a cucumber, two frozen lasagna portions, two different chocolate treats for the kiddos, a small cardboard puzzle that Cheeseball had to have that a day later still sits unwrapped on the dresser, and some yogurt for less than € 10. Then, of course, I stopped at the bakery and got two big, soft pretzels and a tiramisu schnitten for about € 2. I think schnitten means jello and I should have thus realized that the tiramisu flavored portion of the dessert was a jello layer atop the cream layer atop the cake layer atop the different cream layer atop the last cake layer. Which was a little strange. But, the non-jello portions were delicious.

And, now I'm realizing that I should have gone ahead and written up siebzehn and achtzehn separately. But, too late now, forward ho.

Today, the kiddos and I wandered back to The Coolest Park Evah, which they were super excited about right up until they realized that the trip was really just a sneaky ploy by Mom to drag them to the yarn store that I've been dying to go to. I haven't blogged much of it, but I've been knitting quite a bit.

Before we left North Carolina, I knitted two pairs of fingerless mittens for El Niño.


The funny thing about these was that I knitted a pair, and one had the gray stripe and one had the red. He really liked them, so I knitted him a second pair and again it was one gray stripe and one red. So, we re-paired them and I'm completely amazed at how the variegated yarn works out in patterns.

Cheeseball had picked out a yellow and white yarn before we left, and I made her a little purse the other day. She asked for another one that was a little bigger and I started working on it. I've almost run out of that yarn, though, hence the trip to the yarn store today.

knit purses

Look what I got!

new stash

The yarn store had SO many beautiful fibers, but I had to contain myself. I picked up the orange to finish up Cheeseball's purse, the gray for a pair of leg warmers that I've been trying to work on (but not finding the right yarn for) for at least a month and a half and the last skein I just couldn't resist. Isn't it pretty!? I don't know what I'm going to do with it yet, but I'm sure I can find something.

Fresh off my high from the yarn store, I got a call from The Man that totally bummed me out. We were at the PX yesterday and I almost bought that Lamborghini bike. But, I would have to walk it home and drag the kiddos with me, since I had them both and no trailer. So, I decided to hold off. He went back in today to pick it up for me (which was really sweet, because he was thoroughly UNexcited about riding a pretty, woman's bike home) and they had sold the last one. Since yesterday! Booooooo. :(

I guess I'll have to get a performance bike. High class problem.

Technorati tags: knitting, yarn, Germany

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I didn't think we had much on the plate today, but it turned out to be a pretty big day. After almost two full weeks of waiting, we finally got the right paperwork signed and turned in to Housing. At this point - although I really, really, really have my heart set on living off post - I just want an answer from the Housing Office, yay or nay. Either way, we have a place to move in to and we can get out of this transitional purgatory and move on with our life in Germany.

We decided that if we're going to live off post, we want the house with the cool wine cellar, terrace and yard. And, the landlord decided that he "liked our harmony" and Cheeseball and the house is ours if we want it. So, we'll sit down with him and the realtor tomorrow to draw up contracts for our tenancy. (!!!!)

Until we get an official answer from Housing, we don't know if we can actually live in this house or not. But, we want to have all our ducks in a row just in case we do get that yes, so we can hop right out of the hotel and into our house. So, that's all super exciting.

Today, the kids and I walked down to Ikea and the big bike store. Ikea is love, love, love. I swear I want all of it! We didn't bring either of the kids' beds with us, so I was looking for those today and for closets. German houses and apartments don't have closets. I can't get over that, I'm not sure I understand the logic behind not having closets in bedrooms. I mean, everybody has clothes, right...? But, Germans are so precise and they don't tend to act without purpose, so I'm sure there is a very logical reason behind the omission.

The bike store was huge and had dillions of bikes in every size. But, they didn't have any pretty bikes. At all. It was a very performance oriented store - and The Man reminds me that performance is important - but, I'm not trying to win any races. I just need a reliable bike with enough gears to haul Cheeseball up and down the hills, and it has to be pretty. Otherwise, what's the point? Sounds like the Lamborghini will have to be mine.

They also had a trailer that should be perfect for our purposes, I think. Now that we're getting closer to actually getting this bike, I'm excited to have some transportation but I'm getting a little nervous! I haven't been on a bike in I have no idea how long. And an episode in college looms large in my mind. I found myself out in the middle of an intersection with cars going every which way and suddenly I was frozen. And then I was on my side, bike wheels spinning, ground all over me. My shoelaces had somehow wound themselves around the bike pedals and I was attached to my bike, but without the ability to move the pedals around the circle. It was mortifying! And every time I've gotten on a bike since, I'm paranoid. So, that's gnawing at me a bit... But, I'll be fine! It's a bike! Three year olds can ride them! Right...?

Technorati tags: terms go here, terms go here, terms go here

Monday, April 12, 2010



Just because it bothers me to have to plop in an e instead of using the umlaut in the title.

I took the test to get my Driving In Germany If You're Attached To The Army License. No idea what it's actually called, but I don't think it's an actual German license and it's not just a regular Army Driver's License. I know that because I still don't get to drive a tank or anything.

Now that I've studied the book for a few days and took the class, the rules all make sense to me. But, being used to a completely different system, it all seemed very illogical at first. Like, check this out:

Which two cars have to wait?

Car 3 and Car 2.  Seriously.  In the States, when a car is on a straightaway, and another car wants to turn on to it, the car who wants to enter the road has to wait.  Right?  In Germany, at an unmarked intersection, the car to the right always has right of way.

Here's another one:

What order should the cars proceed in?

Car 2, Car 3, then Car 1.  Ha ha ha, I know, right!?  It's a long story, but the reasons why make sense to me now, so I won't bore you with them.

Craziness notwithstanding, I got a big fat A and my license. I don't have a car here yet, but whatever. The Man's command wanted me to have my license if we were going to live off post and now I have it.

While we were on post, I popped in to the PX to check out their bike selection and almost bought a Lamborghini. How fun is that!?

Isn't that pretty!?  It's actually really cheap as far as bikes go, has all the gears I could need and appears to be very sturdy. But, we didn't want to buy anything until we checked out the big bike store here in Sindelfingen.

The next big decision is what kind of trailer to get for Cheeseball.

A bugger would be safer, more convenient for bringing home things like groceries with Cheeseball and would be better for her when it rains. Which it does here. Quite a lot.

A trail-a-bike would be a better learning tool for her, and she's way behind the power curve here. Kids her age are pedaling all over the place, and it seems like a favored way for families to get around. In fact, I was shocked to find out that where the sidewalks aren't marked for bicycle traffic, children are allowed to ride on the sidewalks anyway up until the age of 8. 8!?!?!? Once 8, they have to ride on the street, just like adults. Fortunately, the sidewalks are marked for bicycle traffic on most roads and certainly all very busy roads.

I'm not sure which will go with yet. Mom says BUGGER! and Dad says she needs to learn, put her on a trail-a-bike. We'll see...

Technorati tags: Germany, driving, bike

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Dreizehn unt Vierzehn

I didn't post yesterday because nothing really new happened and also we had hit our limit on indecipherable German language television and used the computer to watch a Harry Potter movie for most of the evening. Turns out we only packed movies for the kids. Oh well.

We did spend our usual morning at the park and then wandered over to the mall. I picked up another pair of absurdly expensive and hideously ugly shoes. A week and a half of walking miles a day in Converse skimmers and Roxy sneakers took their toll, and I developed a terrible pain in my left heel. I have no idea what it is, but barefoot I feel fine. As soon as I put a shoe on, my heel kills with every step. It's almost like it's bruised...? The clogs solve that problem. Unfortunately, they introduce the problem of severe social embarrassment, but whatever.

Today, we decided to hop on the S-Bahn train and ride up to Stuttgart to wander around. We weren't entirely sure we were understanding the train schedule and map, but we figured it didn't really matter where we got off. Wherever we ended up would be different than where we started and it would be fun to explore.

It did turn out that we understood, and we ended up in Stuttgart Stadt-Mitte, like planned. Sans my camera. Of course. It was fun being in a city for the first time in a long time. And it's a beautiful and fascinating city! It's the most interesting hodgepodge of stores, fountains, huge pedestrian-only zones and amazing old architecture, like the Stiftskirche...

Stiftskirche, Stuttgart
Photo by Archangeli on Flickr

...which is just down the street from Louis Vuitton and Escada Sport stores and around the corner from a Table Dance! Girls! Cabaret! (ENTER HERE, AMERICAN SOLDIERS!).

Also in the same area, is the amazing das Neue Schloss (New Castle). New, because it was built around 1775. New. Ha ha ha, this place is awesome. The castle is in the central square of the city, called the Schlossplatz and the area is just incredible. In fact, I had a moment. Walking into this square, with a street musician playing a polka on the accordion, it all of a sudden hit me that ohmigod I'm in Europe and this is so beautiful and I LIVE HERE. !!! It was really special and I appreciate this opportunity all the more.

Schlossplatz Tag
Photo by dts1013 on Flickr

Photo by Sugeo on Flickr

Isn't that beautiful? I wish we could tour the inside, but I'm sure there will be many castles to be seen and explored while we're here. Any suggestions for the best ones to hit?

Technorati tags: terms go here, terms go here, terms go here

Friday, April 09, 2010


We've settled in to a bit of a routine to the park in the morning, to the bakery and grocery store to pick up dinner and a dip in the pool in the evening. I'm really looking forward to creating a new routine, once we find somewhere to live...but until then, we're enjoying our time. Especially Bug, who would like to place an order.

Goldbach Lake, Sindelfingen
I can haz duck?

Yesterday, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity to post about the houses we went to look at in the morning. We looked at two houses in a town I absolutely loved. It had a large stadt-mitte with bakery after bakery, eis (ice cream) cafes, tons of stores, and charm to spare. It was much bigger than the villages we had looked at previously, connected by bike paths to the next city over and The Man's work and really, just perfect.

The first house we looked at in the town had so much going for it. This playground was directly across the barely traveled street from the house. I mean, I could see it from the kitchen window!


The views from the master bedroom were amazing!



The layout of the house was great with a second entrance on the very bottom floor, to make bringing in the bikes very easy. Lots of storage, plenty of bedrooms and slightly less perilous stairs than we'd seen previously.

In fact, the only problem with the place was the flooring. I can't believe I didn't manage to catch a single picture of the carpets, especially with the realtor urging me to "make a picture" every third step (and I was worried she wouldn't let me take pictures!) It wasn't dirty or anything, but it was carpet. And some rooms were blue and some were reddish. It wasn't good. Every other house we've looked at had the light colored wood flooring and very modern (Ikea) fixtures and appliances we've come to associate with the area. This one just hadn't been updated in a while. I asked the realtor if the landlord would consider replacing the flooring and working the cost of it into our monthly rent, but it doesn't sound good. Is it stupid to hold back from a place that's perfect in every other way just because it isn't my style inside?

The second house we looked at had been thoroughly updated, had a rooftop terrace and a yard. That's practically unheard of here. The bedrooms were very small, but that's fairly common here. It had the coolest wine cellar EVAH.

wine cellar
Them's some pretty big bottles of wine.

The house was built in the 20's. Hence, the awesome wine cellar. But, also it sported the cut off and disjointed layout and teeny tiny rooms somewhat typical to the period. All in all, though, it was a fantastic house, very close to the city center and the landlord - though he speaks even less English than we speak German - was very, very nice.

I wish I had taken some pictures of the third house. It looked like it belonged on the set of the first half of Casino. If only I were into 70's retro. It would have been perfect! It was also in a smaller (MUCH less charming) village, slightly farther away from the cities than we would prefer.

If there's any chance either of the first two houses are still available when Housing approves our request, I think I could be happy with either. Neither is exactly perfect, but I keep telling the realtors that the location is much more important to us than the design and I need to follow my own pronouncement.

Technorati tags: Germany, house hunting, dog

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Today is Day Elf...sounds like it should be happy and small and festively dressed, right? But, it's not. Frowny face.

Today was not a good day. We've been trying to file our request for an exception from the mandatory on post housing policy for what seems like for-ev-ver now. We put one together, had it signed and submitted it about a week ago. But, it was kicked back to us by Housing because when they told us they just needed The Man's command to sign off on us living off post, they didn't really mean that. We've since gotten the paperwork together exactly as they've requested this time and have been waiting for his command to sign off again. Hopefully we'll get it back and be able to submit it next week.

After another fun visit to the Housing Office this morning, I got to trek over to Finance to learn that we'll be paying a full 30 days of hotel stays (at more than €150 per night) before we see any reimbursement at all from the Army. On top of the travel costs we've already incurred and in addition to the mortgage we're paying on our vacant house back in the states. Just to pile on a little further, The Man is traveling back to the states pretty shortly here for some training. So, we'll be paying for two hotels. They know what they pay him! I have no idea how they think we can cover all this at once.

And the most devastating news of all is that the information already given to us was completely wrong and, in fact, if our request to Housing is not approved, they will not pay a monthly housing allowance and we will be effectively forced to live on post. For civilian readers, the way the Army pay system is set up is that soldiers are paid a "base pay" and a separate "housing allowance". If we decline the on post housing we have already been offered, they will not pay him the separate housing allowance and that would be the same as your employer deciding to cut your paycheck in half because your family had the audacity to think they might have some say in choosing where they live.

All of this has me feeling a little defeated today, and now I feel bad for puking that out all over all of you. But, now that I've indulged myself with a whole day and an entire blog post feeling sorry for myself, it's time to focus my energy on our request for an exception. What you put out in the universe is what comes to be, and I want more than anything for that request to come to be approved. So, it's time to believe with every fiber of my being.

And on that note, here are a few pictures of things that are happy and small and festively dressed and seen en route to the bus stop yesterday.

Sindelfingen planter art

Sindelfingen planter art

Sindelfingen planter art

Sindelfingen planter art

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


I can't believe it's been zehn (10) days already! With all this walking, my Converse and Roxy sneakers aren't really cutting it. So, last night, I was all over the Internet looking for cute but comfortable walking shoes. In fact, I spent so much time at that, I didn't get to post neun until this morning. I got very familiar with several European brands of shoes and imagine my surprise when I walked in to the PX today and found an entire store dedicated to European walking shoes! I picked up a pair of Josef Seibel green mary janes, but I can't decide if I'm going to keep them or not. They are really not me, but, they are very Germany.

What do you guys think?  Can I pull them off? I don't know...

Whether or not I keep them, I think I'll also pick up a pair of sneakers like these:

With the weather as beautiful as it's been the last few days, I'm almost thinking I should skip right past shoes and go for sandals.  But, I think the cold and wet is coming back in at the end of the week.

Today, we had to go on post to take care of a few more administrative things. I really should have checked the bus schedule before heading out, but I thought the public transportation system was so good, at worst we'd just have to hang out for a half hour or so until our bus showed up. Unfortunately, it would have been a 5 1/2 hour wait. !! The public transportation really is great, but the problem is that the post is way out at the end of town and I imagine there aren't a lot of people that catch the bus out there.

Having walked a mile to the bus stop, it only would have been about another mile and a half to just walk to our destination, but Cheeseball travels on tiny little four year old legs and I thought that was a little too much for her. Not to mention, it would take forever. Of course, we had to walk a mile back to the hotel, but it was all downhill from the stop and, of course, that's much easier.

We ended up taking a taxi, and I think what we really need to do is pick up a bike. I'm being indecisive, though, about what to get for Cheeseball. She's too old for a trailer, by local standards, but she's never ridden a bike before. And, straight up the hill from the hotel would be difficult for any teeny tiny. What to do, what to do... I guess I'll keep waffling for a while and in the meantime I'll start working out the best place to buy that bike around here.

Technorati tags: Germany, bicycle, bus

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


We looked at some houses today! The first one was very modern and updated and nice, although the layout was very different than what I'm used to. It was four stories! Each of the stories was tiny and the staircases were perilous, but there were 5 bedrooms (!), a cellar with washer/dryer hookups and a nice terrace as well as a small enclosed yard-ish area that would mean we wouldn't have to put Bug on a leash every time the little guy had to pee. The living room was teeny tiny, but the 5th "bedroom" was really the entire top floor and would serve as a great, open living room.

I think the kitchen was my favorite part.


The only problem with the house was it's location. It's in a small village, a few km outside of the larger cities that we prefer. Like every village in Germany, there is a city center with groceries, bakeries, a cafe and a few other things. The house itself is very close to the city center, across the street from a kindergarten and within walking distance from two parks and playgrounds. There is a bus stop very close to the house and a train station somewhere in the village. I'd be able to walk to all the daily things we would need, and public transportation is excellent here. I just would really like to be able to walk to more things...more restaurants, more stores, more everything... So, it's not the perfect place for us, but we're keeping it on the back burner.

The second place we saw was just no. It was waaaaaaay out in the country, way too rural, had a weird layout (a bathtub in the master bedroom!?) and was just no.

The last place was an apartment. We've realized - after the last week and a half in the hotel - that an apartment just isn't ideal with two kids. It's always shhhhh! and no running! and oh my god were you two raised in a barn!?!?. But, we looked at it anyway. It was nice and pretty close to Stuttgart, but probably too far for The Man to comfortably commute every day. And, also with the shhhh etc...

It was nice, though.


We'll keep looking. There is a place we found online that we are very interested in and will keep pursuing. We've been speaking with a realtor from the company who is listing it since before we arrived here. But, she's on holiday this week and has passed us off to a colleague for the time being. The colleague is veeeery hard to get a response from. But, we'll keep trying!

Wish us luck!

Technorati tags: Germany, house hunting, apartments

Monday, April 05, 2010


Day Acht was essentially a repeat of Day Seiben, except that it was a regular weekday for us but the final day of the looooong holiday weekend for the rest of Germany. El Niño headed off to school on the bus this morning and Cheeseball and I spent most of the day wandering back and forth from the park to the hotel. Since most everything was closed again, I gave in and took Cheeseball to Burger King for lunch. I also spent some time searching for housing online. Of course, when another lady in the hotel asked her what she did while her brother was at school, she said "we go to Burger King and my mommy sits on the computer while I watch tv." ???!?!? We spent hours at the park and walking the dog around this morning and this is the first time we've been to Burger King since arriving in Germany, I don't know what she's talking about. Thanks, Cheeseball.

After we picked El niño up at the bus stop, we walked back over to the. coolest. park. EVER. and ate doner kebab again, for dinner. El niño invited other kids from the hotel to the park with us, but their mom told him that a mile was too far to walk for her kids. I'm glad the kiddos are embracing this whole powered by foot thing as well as they are, because I only have to scroll back through the blog to see what we would be missing out on otherwise.

As promised, pictures of the. coolest. park. EVER:

Park in Sindelfingen, Stadt-Mitte
the. coolest. entrance. EVER.

Park in Sindelfingen, Stadt-Mitte
Tree house!

Park in Sindelfingen, Stadt-Mitte

Cheeseball filling up the bucket with sand for El niño to hoist up by pulley.

El niño dumping out said bucket through the "sand chute".

All parks should have hammocks.

Cheeseball petting the nice, three-headed dragon. She would probably name it and drag it home with us to snuggle up with at nap time, if only it were real.

I also managed to take my own pictures of doner kebab and donerteller tonight, but really they don't look any different than the lifted picture I used yesterday.

Doner kebab


And, the yarn shop was still teasing me with beautiful fibers in the windows but locks on the doors.

Sindelfingen yarn store

Sindelfingen yarn store

Tomorrow, I go look at houses for the first time. I'm excited, but a little nervous about the timing. I just hope we don't find the perfect place and lose it while waiting for resolution in our big battle with the Housing Office.

Technorati tags: Germany, Sindelfingen, park