Home!

Well on Monday we officially moved into our new home. We hurried off early in the morning to meet the movers. Well, I did. D had to work and so it was all me and the boys to meet the team of Dutch movers. They were amazingly efficient and unloaded our unaccompanied baggage and household goods at the same time. By the time they left, we were all exhausted and surrounded by boxes. But I adore the house, we had minimal drama upon moving in, and I can’t wait for us to be settled.

So four things come to mind upon my initial impression….

1. Floor heat, where have you been all my life? No really! It may be 65 degrees and Spring but nothing beats getting out of the shower, putting your feet on a warm toasty floor and grabbing a towel off the heated rack. And it’s not just the bathroom. The whole house is just as kind to your feet. The thermostat throws me as it’s all in German and I’m still trying to figure it all out, but It can only get better!

2) How do I live without closets!? Clothing is one thing. But what do I do with my towels and bed linens? Another shrunk perhaps but I doubt one will fit downstairs but I may ask for them to try. Otherwise it is Rubbermaid for me!

3) We live on a cul de sac. Imagine a square with 4 houses. It is atrocious for parking BUT both neighbors on either side have kids just Little D’s age!! And since our cozy square is on the edge of town and literally no one comes around into our maze unless they live here, impromptu playgroups complete with riding bikes and scooters and cozy coupes all over in front is perfectly acceptable. Little D even asks to go play! And it is also equally acceptable for all the adults to chill out with lots of beers until it is entirely too late and you realize your child should have been to bed hours ago.

And finally…

4) Both neighbors are very nice, one couple is beyond. How so? They are swingers. Serious swingers. They are very friendly, very open, and have no issue whatsoever to hit on me (not little hints or innuendos, this is straight up) in front of my husband and his wife. She acted as if he had said “have a good day.” D downed his beer in attempt to not get off on the wrong foot. ….chirp chirp….

But aside from that hilarity, they are all very welcoming. (Ha! understatement!) Looks like we found a cozy, laid back, and always interesting cul de sac to live on.

Off to Aachen!

Last weekend we decided to get our exploring on. I had heard so much about Aachen, and luckily it is very close by. Easily done by car, easier yet by train. Plus trains are fun….for the kids I mean. Totally all for the kids.

When I had first planned the trip it was forecasted to be 50 and sunny. I have learned in my month here that 50 is nice and should not be complained about. Sounded perfect for strolling along the ancient city. Alas, it didn’t turn out that way. In fact by Friday night it was forecasted to be 37 and rainy. I almost scrapped the trip altogether but the host at our guest house said that in Germany you just have to roll with it. It would never be perfect weather. So we pressed on.

We met some friends at the Geilenkirchen Banhoff (train station) and it was freezing. Literally…about 32. Our train was delayed 15 minutes (what happened to these efficient Germans??) and we stood out on the platform trying not to be miserable. Finally the train arrived and we eagerly clambered on.

“We are going SO fast!” Dawson blurted, his nose still very rosy.

We got to Aachen and then strapped Grayson in his Ergo carrier…then off we went.

The streets were beautiful, full of gorgeous architecture and ancient ruins just thrown in with modern society. There were little shops full of delicious smells and bright sights. We walked through cobblestone streets full of people bustling around with bags full of expensive things.

Then we were met with a beautiful beautiful sight. The Aachen Dom, built in 796 AD by Charlamange, the first Holy Roman Emperor. It also happens to be where he is entombed. It was old and grand and breathtaking. Not only was this awe inspiring visually, but to think about all the history that had happened where my feet met the cobblestone. For a few minutes I forgot how cold I was.

I took some pictures with my phone so they definitely are not great and do not do this place justice. But it was just so cold and with a 25 lb sack of Grayson strapped to me I just didn’t want to haul out the good camera. But on a nice day…..I promise. Good things will come.

20130410-133411.jpg

20130410-133458.jpg

The inside, I hear, is even more fabulous with mosaics everywhere. But last weekend time and petite tempers were limited. Since it is just a 15 minute train ride away we shall definitely be back many many times.

And then for the second time that day, my breath was taken away as my eyes saw that green and white sign I desperately missed….STARBUCKS. And English speaking as well! It was a tasty stop to warm up if anything.

We continued on our adventure, buying odds and ends at fabulous stores and trying to make mental notes where things were located.

Before we departed we found a Thai restaurant that we had heard was delicious. We piled in the small little restaurant and were seated in the most inconvenient of places….a booth placed in the corner towering above the other tables. It apparently is used for special occasions but today it was the only place that would fit us all. Not only did we tower above everyone, we also had to remove our shoes as was tradition. Now, if this was date night this would be fabulously romantic. However, with two small children, now barefoot, and kneeling at a little table next to a steep staircase (although few stairs)….my leisurely lunch was kapoot. Instead while our kidless friends reminisced and playfully ate appetizers, I tried to stop my oldest from pushing the youngest down the stairs. Or stopping the oldest from playing with the expensive looking window setting. Or stopping the youngest from spilling every drink on the table. And every time someone let out a cry and we had to excuse ourself, we first had to stop and put our shoes back on and climb down the stairs. It was exhausting. I was rewarded, however, with seriously good Thai food. And I hope to be that quiet couple in the corner having a romantic eventing out someday. But that day, I wanted out.

We hit up a few more stores, including a toy store where we found the much sought-after golf clubs. Please let me explain…

Dawson had a cheap plastic set of golf clubs from Walmart. They were left outside, they were dirty, half the pieces were either broken or missing. I threw them away, and not a damn was given. Until one day Dawson happened to come across a similar set of clubs at a friend’s house. From then on…”I want golf clubs! Are we getting my clubs?” Over and over. In fact, while walking from the train station earlier in the day Dawson had asked Denny “are we going to get golf clubs?” We said maybe but what we really thought was we weren’t gonna find any damn plastic golf clubs in a gorgeous place like this….

Standing in the toy store…I stand corrected. Even when he fell asleep coming home from the train station he never let them go….

20130410-133534.jpg

So as we headed back to the train station, plastic golf clubs in tow, we were again cold but eager to come back and explore. I feel amazingly lucky to be around such history, and to be so close to some of the most scenic places on this earth.

What do crucifixes and cigarettes have in common?

They both can be found on the side of the road here in Germany! And it’s hard to determine which one surprises me most….

First off, remember those cigarette machines from way back when? I particularly remember them in smoky diners (for the Great Falls crowd this means Cattins). But as the people fought for their right to breathe clean air they seem to have disappeared except for the occasional ghetto bowling alley. In Germany this is a much different story. They are everywhere….Attached to random apartment buildings, free standing in the middle of a residential or business district. Pick a flavor and it’s yours. At first the public health portion of my brain gasped in horror. But I’ve soon come to realize that it isn’t demonized like in the States. It’s bad for you. Deal with it. Don’t like it quit. But very much still apart of their culture. I must say props to them. We public health people are very bossy, and while I know the importance the position has I think we take away personal responsibility. The Germans accept it rather than blaming society for making them do it. So….I guess….good for them!!

20130405-223346.jpg

Also apparently it’s not “put money in, get cigarette out” deal. You need a special card to use it so I assume the process of getting said card does screen out the wannabe badass 7 year olds or what have you…

The other side-of-the-road oddity is the crucifixes and small Catholic shrines. Now, I’m technically Catholic myself but maybe just that in the US blatant in your face religious symbols seem to be less acceptable but it seems strange to see a giant crucifix next to your stop sign…or an enclosed shrine complete with lit candles and a statue of the Virgin Mary on the corner of a busy street (or out in the middle of nowhere for that matter!)

20130405-223422.jpg,

Regardless, it certainly makes things more interesting as you make your way through villages and such.