Monday, June 11

The Kitty Goes to Germany, Part I, Long-winded Limericks.

There once was a cat named Kitty
whose adventures inspired this ditty -
a preposterous tale
which may become stale
as I recount and attempt to be witty.

In North Carolina it started,
the attempt to get this cat charted
on a plane to Deutschland,
though we hadn't planned
on such incidents as to make us faint-hearted.

He went to the veterinarian
(in his opinion, completely barbarian).
Many papers were signed;
we were officially inclined
to endorsement from the USDA Authoritarian.

For an hour and a half we drove
with a screaming young child, we strove
for an autograph and stamp
to officially replant
this cat to our new German grove.

We stopped at the local maze
(an airport - they cause such a craze,)
to gain the green light
that for shipping, he'd be all right
however his crate they did not appraise.

Another afternoon running around
but there was nary a cat crate to be found
At least three different shops,
all of them flops,
though we eventually bought something sound.

There was also the need for an expensive scanner
to display Kitty's microchip identity in a manner
that allowed the EU to read
that he was who he seemed,
and customs could wave the approval banner.

Throughout this somewhat hectic adventure,
which was already a real jaw-clencher,
we were dealing with movers
and all related maneuvers
to progress in our Germany-bound venture.

We dropped Kitty off with a friend,
for on our own flight it was time to ascend.
We had no clue
of the many jobs she'd accrue -
what would follow was surely not intended.

The End of Part I

nineteen - twenty months.

My little love, I am really amazed at how well you have adapted to the changes going on in our lives right now. I believe you were most upset and confused when the movers took all of our belongings, leaving us with an empty apartment. You seemed frightened of our old home then; not comfortable with being by yourself in those empty rooms which used to house your routines and comfort. After a few emotional days, you seemed to accept that everything was different and that we would often be in-and-out of different cars and sleeping in different places. You have adjusted to having only a few toys to play with for now. You've had to watch more movies than we find desirable, but they have also provided a sense of familiarity for you throughout our jumping from place to place.

Oblivious to the whirlwind of change, your development has soared even further skyward.  You have started putting more words together, for example saying "nurse baby!","hi Papa!",  or "bye Meow!" You are fascinated with birds and as you see them streaking overhead, cry out "tweet-tweet!" You know all the parts of your body now and can name most of them. Today, you learned what "ow" really means and how to use the word. We were playing on a paved surface, bouncing your ball, when you fell while running and skinned your little knee. For an hour afterwards, you pointed to it and said "ow!" while crying intermittently. Since I put your pajama pants on for the night, you've luckily forgotten about it. On the bright side, you've also learned what "counting" is and you try your hardest to count to five! You'll hold your fingers up and with a grin say, "!"

Nowadays, you love swinging at the park and will even go down slides by yourself! Your pretend play has really taken off too. Before your play kitchen was packed away to be shipped, you would pretend to cook soup in the little wooden pot, then spend twenty minutes pretending to spoon feed us and your stuffed animals. Your stuffed animals all have names that you've given them - most noteable right now are Baah (your lavender stuffed sheep), Pooh (from the books/movies), and Mau (a little mouse in a red dress).  You're also becoming much more interested in other children, not only observing them but interacting with them. After spending a little time with another child, you will willingly give hugs and follow them around, smiling.

You can name the colors: red, orange, yellow, white, green, blue, purple and sometimes black. If I lay out a row of crayons, you can point out specific colors when asked. While we're out and about you often alert us to your favorite color, exclaiming, "more blue, more blue!" You hum almost to the tune of the ABC song and the Ponyo theme song. You're very adept at peeling stickers from their sheet and placing them right where you want them. You know about a quarter of the alphabet now, including the letters O, I, A and P. We taught you last week that "O" is also what's called a circle and after a few demonstrations, you could draw a circle of your own!

You love all types of food, and are usually willing to try just about anything. You love schnitzel, lemonade, pizza (which you've eaten too often on the run, since our busy PCS time began) and eggs. Last night, you devoured three fresh cheese tortellini, a slice of tomato, a big floret of roasted broccoli, half a fingerling potato, two bites of pork chop, three strawberries, four blackberries and a German butter cookie. You like to snack on yogurt, raisins and cinnamon cheerios. If not presented with a fork or spoon with your meal, you will not touch the food until the problem is rectified - you really dislike 'dirty' hands! You also still nurse a few times throughout the day and night. You have grasped the idea of nursing when we first wake up, and then saying "no more mee-mee!" when it's time to go eat breakfast. 

You're very good at sharing your food with us and your stuffed animal friends, and surprisingly, it has only gotten messy when you were given a lollipop at a restaurant. The Germans apparently love to give children candy... in addition to the lollipop, you've tried a little package of gummy bears and I've had to refuse a number of other candy offerings. 

It is truly hard for me to grasp the idea that in just a few short months, you will be two years old. 

Saturday, June 9

our new home.

Remember how I mentioned that although we had found our dream house, we were still looking for something better to present itself? Well, as it so happens... something did. 

After pouring through the books of house and apartment listings for the hundredth time, I marked off a couple of homes in a town very nearby to where we are stationed - a town we had never been to before. We looked at the two homes, unimpressed by the 70's style decor in one and the very heavy smokers on the first floor of the other. As we took a short tour through the town on foot, I spotted the peak of a handsome looking little house on top of a hill we were passing. Cute white lace curtains peeked from the two windows I could see, and there was a "home for rent" sign at the base of the driveway. "We should call! We're right here anyway," I mentioned to Marius. He agreed and we met the landlord shortly thereafter. 

You may think this odd, as the house is just about the complete opposite of the last one I posted photos of. It's very small, recently built and located on the outskirts of a more populated town. It's really lovely both inside and out, not a potential fixer-upper like the other one. It has a real yard, a patio and garage. It is a two minute walk from a Kindergarten and a grocery store, where while Marius is gone I can buy fresh food for myself and Iris (in case I haven't mentioned it before, I don't drive). The town has a train station, numerous bus stops, and a couple of restaurants and shops. 

The bedrooms are absolutely tiny, but the living room is a good size for the three of us and that's where we spend the majority of our time anyway! Living in a smaller house will keep our acquisition of "stuff" to a minimum, unlike at the other house which was massive and we felt we'd have to buy more furniture and such to fill the hugely open space. Our new house is cozy - the other made me feel almost uncomfortable considering its size. 

Our shipments of belongings haven't arrived yet by plane or by boat, but we will be loaned some basics from the base until they do. We did feel a bit of uncertainty and even sadness at the decided loss of our other potential home; its charm and all the many things it had to offer us. However, we feel we made the best choice possible and this house also has much to offer us, and especially Iris. I'm really looking forward to our move in date this week!

The view of our house from the driveway.
I plan to add potted flowers and the land lady is putting in a garden for us too!

The view from our patio and yard!
The front hall with marble staircase and tiled floors throughout.

Sunday, June 3

sneak peek.

Here is a small preview of the house most likely to become our home for the next four years!

The first floor includes a modern kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry room which leads to a one car garage. Upstairs there are three bedrooms, a walk-in closet/dressing room, and a large main room at the top of the staircase which will serve as our library. 

In addition, there is a lofted attic as well as a full cellar. A stone driveway leads all the way behind the house, allowing for a small outdoor play space for Iris. There is also a huge stone staircase behind the house, leading up to a grassy area. The cellar will be perfect for food storage and for aging beer and wine. It will also accommodate our intent to delve into the art of brewing beer on our own.

The oil heat is being replaced with a wood chip burner, almost guaranteeing cheaper heat (which is included in the rent anyway.) The windows and shutters are fairly new, though considering the house was built in the late 1700's, it will probably be a bit drafty in the winter. 

The house is in a perfect location; right down the road from a Kindergarten, public park, butcher, bakery, and bus stops to the city. We are still keeping our options open and are actively looking at other houses, just in case something better presents itself. However, we are so excited about our find that we have made an agreement with the land lord already. The agreement legally promises the house to us for a period of five days - in other words, the land lord can not rent the house to someone else. If all goes as we foresee, we should be moving in this month!

Friday, June 1


Iris and Pooh bucked up for safety on our flight to Germany!

Located... in Germany! My family arrived in Germany about three days ago after a long 24 hours of traveling from North Carolina. Little Iris did a great job considering the circumstances. None of us got much sleep that day but transitioning to the +7 hours has since been fairly easy.

Reading... a new book called How to Raise Your Spirited Child, which I often found referenced online in relation to conscious parenting techniques. The author describes a spirited child as being one who seems, in one way or another, more "intense" than their peers. While Marius and I haven't exactly experienced trouble with parenting Iris, her mature emotions and personality can be baffling. Her fine motor skills and comprehension skills seem beyond the typical range. By picking up How to Raise Your Spirited Child, I hope to learn more constructive ways to understand and interact with her by letting her be herself, rather than inadvertently dampening her spirits.

Watching... Winnie the Pooh. This is Iris' new favorite thing in the world. After one viewing of the original movie, she knew to ask for "more Pooh!" We surprised her with a big Pooh stuffed animal when we boarded the 8 hour flight over the pond to Germany and she's just smitten with him.

Listening to... the sounds of the country; the breeze shifting leaves, foreign bird song, the all-around lack of urban drivel otherwise known as Quiet. We are currently residing in a hotel like place (which is actually more suitable to call an apartment) where Marius is now stationed. It has a full kitchen and living room, two bedrooms and bathroom. The living room has massive screened doors and windows. It's in the low 60's right now, but all of them are wide open to let us bask in the aura of this country, even whilst inside on a military base.

Anticipating... moving into our own home. We went house hunting for the first time yesterday and may have found our dream home. We were given two huge books of housing information by the housing office and I must have spent a collective three hours trying to sort through the hundreds of places listed there. One particular place called out to me as soon as I read it, and I kept going back to it, double starring it to denote that we needed to visit it. We called to make an appointment and got no answer. Later that day, after visiting two other duplex-style houses, we were about to call it quits for the day when they called us back! We arranged a time but due to road closures, the GPS routed us through the mountains on a logging road which was almost dangerous and ended in a dead-end. After an hour of trekking through the woods and other detours, we made it there. The house was built in the late 1700's next to the town's church. It was originally a parsonage, but is now owned by the church and rented out. It has two main floors with 3-4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, living room, dining room, and a kitchen with new appliances. There is also a huge attic space, as well as a full cellar. It has that Old House Smell I love so much, creaky staircases, vastly high ceilings, some ancient looking tiled floors and an atmosphere of history. We are going back today and will very likely be making an agreement with the landlord!

Enjoying... some great German food! We went to our first German restaurant last night with our tour guide from yesterday (a coworker of Marius') and his wife. I ordered schnitzel with peppercorn sauce and cheese, while Marius ordered it with sauteed onions, tomatoes and cheese. So delicious and Iris loved it too! The food here is so much better than what is generally found in the States. I am unsure whether is has to do with the difference between normal and GMO food, or the land on which food is produced, or what have you... but the difference is profound. Marius thought I was crazy the night we got back from the commissary with some local strawberries and I said, "yes! Some real strawberries! They will be better than anything we've had in years!" He voiced his doubt over my exclamations, but upon my placing of a strawberry in his mouth, the marked expression of delight on his face was enough to prove my point.

Concerned about... our Kitty. He is still in North Carolina, having been unable to get on the flight that was supposed to bring him here two days after us. He is staying with a trusted friend, though I still miss him and worry about the stress that all of this change is putting on him. Dealing with his situation of having to be imported to Germany has been an absolute nightmare for us and our friend caring for him, between the regulations causing time issues and the expense. I will write more on this later, as it is a long story. As of this moment, he should be here next Thursday. We are all hoping that plans are not altered again by any other unforeseen circumstances.

Now that half of our moving process has been completed and we are finally overseas, I will have more time and attention to devote back here. I have missed writing and I surely have some updates about Iris to catch up on!