Mother and Child (Mutter und Kind)

One great thing I have noticed about Germany so far is how accomImagemodating they are to mothers and their children.   I am specifically referring to the availability and quality of bathrooms with changing stations (Wickelbaum or Wickeltisch).  We went shopping at IKEA and, of course, the baby had a blow out.  There was an entire room just for mothers and babies.  It had three changing stations complete with wipes and fresh sheets of paper for covering the changing pad.  It had toys for older children to play with to keep them entertained.  It had a lounger too.  I’m thinking that was for mother’s who need a break!

I thought maybe the niceness of this was because it was IKEA, but the case is the same in many restaurants, groceries stores, the mall, and the zoo. The restaurant we went to yesterday even had diapers in various sizes available at the changing table.   It’s nice knowing that wherever we go out, I don’t have to find a corner to change the baby or change her in the car.

Now the strollers here are a whole other world I have yet to figure out.  I’m intrigued by the difference the ones I see in Chicago. I know some come from the different usage needs of different locations.  One difference is that it appears that most moms have their babies in buggy/bassinet type strollers for a long time.  Babies all seem to be lying down.  We pretty much went straight from the car seat attachment to sitting up and bypassed lying down in a stroller all together.

If they are not lying down, they have a footrest for the baby, which is kind of like the footrest that comes out of a recliner.  Why is that?  Is it more comfortable for the baby?  I have never seen this before.

Another feature I like is that they have bigger baskets beneath the strollers.  I think this must be because they use the stroller as a shopping cart when they are out.

Moms and Dads here take their babies everywhere, even in the cold German weather.   It is colder than Chicago here right now, but not winter cold yet.   So we have still been carrying the baby around in the Baby Bjorn or in the stroller with a blanket over her.   People here have their babies bundled up like they are in the North Pole.   Every stroller is equipped with a huge fleece or fur body cover or muff.   We are looking into getting one because right now we feel eyes glaring at us like we are not keeping our child warm enough.

I do love that people walk so much here and in Europe in general.  They definitely do not let the weather keep them indoors.   I think what helps with the walking is that it seems that every city has a pedestrian only shopping area that is perfect for strolling.   The European stroll is an aspect of life I wish I could transport back to America, but can’t.  So for now, I will try to partake in it as much as possible.

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How to Be German

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My sister and her boyfriend gave me this insightful and quite funny book called, How to Be German in 50 Easy Steps by Adam Fletcher.   I thought I would use this book as a kind of blog series to check off when I have done one of the steps or to add steps of my own.

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I will start with number 10, which is Drink Mixed Beverages.    I had already been introduced to the cola and orange pop combination by my sister.  It is known as Spezi here in Germany.   Both Pepsi and Coke have their own versions.   Here is my angel interested in drinking her own spezi while out to dinner.   We have also had the German Radler, which is beer mixed drink.   It is like a shandy, beer mixed with a lemonade pop.  Both are good!  If you are interested in finding Mezzo Mix in the states.  You can taste it at the World of Coca Cola in Atlanta!

Our German Cottage

The hubs and I are ADDICTED to Househunters International, especially the European episodes. We would watch it and say, “Look.  Those people moved abroad with their kids or their pets.  We can do it too!”.

We love guessing which of the three houses the people are going to pick and also like to say which one we would chose. Well, if we were on an episode ourselves we would definitely choose the home we are in now.  Just like the show where each choice has its pros and cons, so does our new home.  It has boatloads of charm with the thick wooden beams, original wood floors, and German antique and modern furnishings and decor.   It feels so homey.  I love the smell when we walk in the door, it just screams Germany to me.  I don’t know why.

The downside is that those original floors creak loudly and are not always level.  The walls are quite thin, so you can hear anyone walking or talking upstairs.   And the spiral staircase!  It is a necessity for such a small house, but can be a challenge when trying to carry a baby up and down or if you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.   Even so, the positives far outweigh any negative.

This is the first time in any home in Europe where we have had so many appliances.  We have a dishwasher, washer/dryer, microwave, toaster, coffee maker, hot water boiler, iron, CD, and tv.  We feel very spoiled.  We are loving our new home.

Embracing uncomfortable

Is anyone surprised when I say we are moving back to Europe? We must sound like a broken record!

We are going back to Europe so Greg can play basketball again.  Our destination is Hagen, Germany, where Greg played two years ago.   What makes this, his 8th season of professional basketball, crazier is that we are going to be taking our two cats, Zoe and Micho, and our baby girl.

You can’t believe how many people say things to me like, “Wow!   You are an amazing wife to keep doing this for Greg!” or “How do you keep putting up with this?”  I guess people don’t understand that going is just as much for me as it is for him.  While he gets to follow his dream of playing professional basketball, I get to follow my dream of living abroad and passion for travel.   I am not “putting up” with anything.

Are we excited?  Definitely!  Are we nervous? Most definitely!  The strange thing is that the part we are most nervous about is bringing the cats, not the baby.  The baby will adapt, but will our cats? It’s no easy task to bring cats overseas.  We are not only concerned about getting the right vaccinations and documents, but seeing how they will do on the plane and in their new home.  Will they howl the entire flight?   Will they be stressed about their new environment?  Cats do not like change.  They would be content to stay in the same place forever if they could.  Unfortunately, their parents (Greg and I) feel the exact opposite.  Staying in a comfortable place for too long makes us uncomfortable.

That’s our new motto, by the way.  “What’s uncomfortable now becomes comfortable later.  What’s comfortable now becomes uncomfortable later.”

Will it be difficult to leave family and friends? Yes (uncomfortable)

Will it be stressful moving our family on only 1 suitcase each? Yes (uncomfortable)

Will it be challenging to be there without a support system and dealing with a different culture/language? Yes (uncomfortable)

Anything worth doing is going to be uncomfortable at first.  But we believe that doing what you love will make you happy in the end, you just have to get through the hard work and difficult phase. The discomforts of the move far outweigh the feelings of regret we may feel later.   So for now, we are embracing uncomfortable.