26 November 2007

Baking attempts...

It's Sunday and we had planned to take the kids to Domaine Dalhem, (a historical working farm in the city) but for the second weekend it rained (started off by snowing), so that put paid to that and we have another day indoors. Ugh. I made a marble cake from a German mix and I think I need to start using American recipes and working from scratch- can you believe a mix using 80 cl of milk, 250 g butter(!!!) and 3 eggs? Working from scratch at home I never used that much fat. Mom just sent me measuring cups and spoons (everything here is by weight), so I think I’ll start baking. She also sent brown sugar and chocolate chips, so that’s where I will try starting. Baking soda is not available in Deutschland, so I hope that baking powder will be an acceptable substitute (some sources say yes, some no, and some say to use a different amount, which conversion factor they do not give!).

It’s so strange: just this weekend Sarah has developed a tendresse for a small stuffed rabbit that Sue’s parents gave her when she was born. She has spent this weekend carrying it around with her and sleeping more easily with Bun-bun. Funny to see how these things develop.

23 November 2007

Getting out and having guests...

Our former au pair and friend C came in to join us for the weekend as her dad was playing with his band at a bar in Kreuzberg. The German's friend L(co-best man at our wedding) was also in town as an emergency replacement on a Frisbee team in a tournament (he is working as an architect in the Netherlands currently) and he joined us for the evening as well.

We have found a great babysitter, C, who has two daughters of her own and I think is better at being a mom than I am , so we felt great about spending the night out. Anyway, we went to Kreuzberg and just wandered about a bit until we saw a Vietnamese restaurant that looked interesting and stopped in and ate. L’s friend A, whom he had studied with in Nuernberg, joined us there. She lives in Mitte (a section of Berlin very close to Prenzlauer Berg, where we were when we got here).

Afterward we went to the Jazz club. It was really mellow and pleasant, although I had really forgotten how much I dislike having to breathe smoke and there was a man behind me smoking a cigar. I am going to be very happy after the smoking ban comes in on January 1st! We came back about 1 am and watched the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy: it’s a season behind here so C was interested to see it. On Saturday we had fresh-baked baguettes and cheese and turkey for breakfast and then Cand I went off to the Villa Grisebach (the gallery is in the Grisebach Stadtvilla, which by iself is a work of art) and to the Kunsthaus Ketterer. This is the other gallery we went to and the main reason C came to Berlin: she wants to go to the auction in Munich. They had absolutely amazing art on view. C’s dad is the world authority on one of the artists that is represented in this auction and she wanted to preview it and then actually go to her first auction.

22 November 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Obviously not a holiday here. The kids and I went to school, the German to work.I made a turkey (very moist and succulent: I think all poultry here is better than ordinary poultry at home) but no other sides. However, what is up with the miniature chickens? I know there must be regular size ones out there, because I buy the schenkels and they are a good size. But the butcher told me I needed to buy multiple whole chickens to feed a large family, rather than get a larger bird.

17 November 2007

Kirmes in Soest and our perma-state of illness...

Went to the in-laws in early November. The German had a meeting in Düsseldorf on Wednesday, so we drove in on Tuesday night and the girls stayed with Oma and Opa on Wednesday while I drove to the city with him. While he did his (all day) training, I wandered around the city a bit, trying to figure out where we might want to live, or at least crossing off some areas. It was a good week to go because we wanted to visit die Kirmes, which was having its 670th holding in Soest. It is the largest in city carnival/fair in Europe and perhaps in the world. The really neat thing about it is that it is built directly inside the city and Soest is a cute walled city. Looks very different with a carnival built inside it! The fair starts every day at 4ish and runs through later than we stayed up (we went home 1 am). On some of the rides it looks as if one’s feet will brush church steeples! We rode this ferris wheel and it was great, although raining.

Luckily, the rain stopped and the weather moderated and the evening wound up being very nice. Chrissie (our former au pair ) lives in Soest, so she had come back from school for Kirmes and we met up and wound up going about until after midnight, where we had thought that we would leave shortly after 8:30, when the fireworks ended. But we had a great time being shown about and tasting things and looking at things and drinking (although the German couldn’t partake, as designated driver). When we got back to the house, we found that K, my niece, who was staying over as well, had been ill.
Saturday morning I also was sick as the proverbial dog. I spent the morning uebergeben for the first time in 24 years and I didn’t enjoy it. I also didn’t enjoy my in-laws belief that my illness was due to over indulgence (that belief disappeared after Opa came down ill that evening). Chrissie was also sick as a pup the next evening so clearly a very nasty virus was making its way through Koerbecke. I threw up more times than I care to mention.

Both kids are sick again (November 17th) with what I had last week probably, so I think I will need to call a babysitter for Monday.

01 November 2007


and how Germany handles it.

Currently (and funds for the program have just been increased), a new-comer has a legal right to 600 hours of language and cultural courses at the cost of 1E an hour. In addition, because I am enrolled in a language course I am entitled to daycare/kindergarten for the Things (which is otherwise available from 4 and up through the state or without subsidization). Each state has its own department in charge of Newcomers (Anfangers) and the services are available in multiple languages. There are Volkshochschules everywhere which hold not only language courses for German but also teach many other languages and skills, all available at very low rates. The German will be contacting the Alien Registration Departments that handle the area around his parents nd Düsseldorf this week to get information on when classes will be starting in those areas, so that we can arrange our moves around classes, if possible.

Right now I’m taking German Mondays through Thursdays from 9:30-1. The kids are picked up by shuttle after 8(when they aren’t sick!) and dropped off Monday through Thursday before 3.

On Fridays they come home at noon.