Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I have lots of things to write about, but I have been really sick the last few days. I haven't forgotten about you all, I'll be back soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Food prices

I've heard lots of differing opinions comparing food prices in the US to those in Germany. Germans in the US told us food was way cheaper in Germany, I've had some Americans friends here comment on how much more they spend on groceries here as compared to the US. I think when you average it all out, prices are basically the same here. However, some things here are much cheaper, and some things are much more expensive. So if you know what to shop for, you can get great deals.

Beer is cheap. It's not "good" beer, but the discount grocery has 6 packs of beer for €1.69, and they're bigger than US beers. Dylan likes them fine, so we save money on beer.

Wine- as in the US wine prices vary, but you can get a lot of French wines very cheap here, which is difficult to find in the US. We're not huge wine aficionados, but I've enjoyed everything we've drank, and I don't think we've spent more than €4 on a bottle of wine, including the sparking wine we had for valentines day.

Cheese- Dylan and I really love cheese, in the US we would frequently spend $5-8 on a small wedge of "fancy" cheese like brie or gouda. Here, I found gouda for €1 for 100 grams, so about €3.5 for a big wedge of it, and today I bought a 250g (a little bigger than the stand 8oz rounds in the US) round of camembert for €1.29. I haven't tried to buy it yet, but apparently cheddar cheese here is quite expensive.

Milk- Is similarly priced I think. A liter, so a little more than a quart is €.59 for store brand, so a gallon would be €2.40 or $3.20 for whole milk. So pretty similar.

Fruits and veggies- seem cheaper, but it's a little hard to say with the packaging being so different, and the conversion from euros to dollars. Today I bought a large bag of brussel sprouts (like way more than we would eat for one meal) for €1.49. A few days ago, I bought three peppers (a red, a green, and a yellow), I know in the US I bought three peppers like that for $4.99 (not on sale) and here it was €1.79. I bought a very large bag of potatoes (lasted 3 or 4 different meals) for €.99. I've also bought big bags of clementines for €.99, they we're great though, probably a 3rd of them were too sour to eat.

Meat- Is mostly more expensive. Beef seems very expensive. I spent about €7 for some stew meat, maybe a pound. Definitely not a great deal. It depends what you buy though, I got a similar amount of pork for €3. In general, pork, ground meat, and sausage are going to be cheapest. I bought some frozen fish the other day (enough for 2 people) for €2 on sale.

Snack items- Are generally more expensive. A small bag of chips not much bigger than what you would buy in a vending machine in the US might cost €1.5. But this depends on what you want to snack on, I saw Ritter sport chocolate bars today for €.79, and in the US they would probably be at least $2.5. I've been buying James a fresh pretzel to munch on while we're out and about, and that only costs €.25-.40.

In general it seems like if we want to eat exactly the way we did in the US, it will not be cost effective. Things like chips, peanut butter, and mac and cheese (not that that's the sort of stuff we ate anyway...) that were fairly affordable there, are not here. However, if we're willing to take advantage of the things that are cheap here, and give up the more expensive things that we're used to, food prices seem quite reasonable.

Tonight for dinner we're having cheesy-bacon-potato soup with fresh bread from the bakery, and the whole meal will cost around €5.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What's different?

The money- Ok, so obviously they use Euros here instead of dollars. But there are more differences than just that. They have 1 and 2 euro coins, so most often when you get change at the register, it's a giant handful of coins. Also, credit cards are very rarely used here, so we've had to get used to using cash everywhere, even the grocery store and the gas station.

Cigarette machines- They're everywhere. Like on the sides of buildings and at random intersections. Here's an example:

Bottle recycling- When you buys bottles here, you typically pay €.15-.50 more at the register than the listed price, this amount is the pfand, which you can get back if you return the bottles. We have a giant bag full of empty bottles that I need to return sometime soon.

The numbers- Instead of saying twenty-nine, you say nine and twenty (in German of course, so Neunundzwanzig). Which I thought would be more confusing than it is. It always makes me think of that song "Sing a Song of Sixpence" from when I was a kid.

The Customer service- Ash, over at Hetta Hoo summed it up pretty well in this post. To add my own anecdote, we went to open a bank account, and instead of offering free checking for a year, or a new toaster, or some other thing to entice you, like you would expect in the US, they handed us a sheet of paper with all the many, many fees we would have to pay. It just really doesn't seem like anyone over here is very happy to be getting your business.

Phone numbers- Instead of xxx-xxx-xxxx it's xxxxx-xxxxxxxx, or sometimes something else. It doesn't seem to be consistently the same number of digits for every phone, which is very strange.

Cell phones are called "handys"

Lines- People seem to have very little respect for "lines" Today at the train station my friend was getting ready to use the ticket machine, and this woman just stepped right in front of her to use the machine. My friend has been here a year, and she said that sort of thing is really the norm, rather than the exception.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Snow day

We're stuck inside today because it's too snowy and windy to go out. I thought it would be fun to make cookies, and even with our limited supplies (flour, sugar, eggs, butter) we were able to make some shortbread cookies. I don't have a rolling pin or cookie cutters, but James does!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The pizza debaucle

Friday night I planned to bake a frozen pizza. I was looking forward to an easy dinner with very little mess and hassle. I waited till the kids were starting to get hungry, turned on the oven, and popped in the frozen pizza. About 10 minutes after putting the pizza in, I went to check on it. It seemed about half done. Of course, the boys followed me into the kitchen and set right to turning all the knobs on the front of the oven. I shooed everyone out of the kitchen, turned the knobs back to their appropriate places and closed the door. 10 minutes later I went back to check on the pizza. It looked exactly the way it had 10 minutes ago. I thought that was weird, but assumed it had to do with the thick crust of the pizza, so I turned the oven temperature up a little and went back out. 5 minutes later I checked again. The pizza was still cold. No melty cheesy goodness, and definitely not edible by my standards. At this point I was starting to get concerned. I turned the oven all the way up to broil and waited 5 more minutes. Nothing. And the broiler had not turned orange like my one back home. At this point I was pretty sure the oven was broken. So, I thought I would make grilled cheese. I turned on the burner and waited for it to get hot. A few minutes later, the burner was still stone cold. Uh-oh. At this point I started to suspect that a breaker may have been flipped. I checked the breaker box, and sure enough, there was one switch flipped the wrong way. It wasn't one in a row though, it was a different color and was set apart from the rest of the switches. I thought about flipping it just to see, but I was worried I would make the apartment blow up or something, so I decided against that. It was time to find a plan B.

Dylan was not due home any time soon, because he was picking up the rental car. I decided I would order a pizza. I got out our pizza delivery flyer we had gotten in the mail. At this point it occurred to me, that my German is not really good enough the order pizza. I could probably communicate what I wanted, but I have a hard time understanding what people say to me, so answering any questions properly was out of the question. I decided not to call to order pizza. Instead, I looked online for a delivery place that I could order from on the internet. I found one,Yay! I had to spend €17 to get free delivery, but for a large pizza, that didn't seem too ridiculous. Of course, a large pizza was only €7 so I also ordered a salad, a tiramisu and a liter of apfel Adelholzener (like an apple sparkling juice). I placed the order, and a green check mark and some german words, that didn't google-translate in to anything that made much sense popped up on the screen. I didn't get a confirmation email, and there was nothing on the webpage saying when the order would come. I tried pressing the "order" button again, and this time, a pop-up saying (roughly) I had already placed that order popped up. So I assumed the order was successful.

Shortly after I ordered the pizza, Dylan got home (much earlier than I expected), and flipped the breaker. Of course the oven came back on right away. So we decided to finish cooking the frozen pizza and give that to the kids, and then eat the pizza delivery when it showed up. After an hour of waiting for the pizza delivery to show up, I started to think my order had not been successful after all. By the time it finally showed up, two hours after I ordered it, we had all but given up hope that it would arrive at all.

The delivery pizza was ok. Not terrible, but cold, and nothing special. Dylan thought the frozen pizza was better. We did learn some valuable lessons from the whole thing though. Pizza delivery is totally not worth the money here, the breaker flips if you turn on all the burners and the oven, and I need to trust my instincts more!

The master bedroom

I finally have the closets organized, so I'm not totally embarrassed to post pictures. Our master bedroom is actually just a loft above the living room. It's quite large, but we've yet to figure out a way to utilize all the extra space. I considered making it into the kids playroom, but I'd honestly rather have them navigate the spiral staircase as little as possible. It's not exactly ideal, because it essentially turns what should be a 2 bedroom apartment into a 1 bedroom apartment. Back in Boulder we would put James to bed in his room, David to bed in our room, and then having the living room to hang out in all evening. Now if we put David down in our bedroom, we really can't talk or make any noise in the living room, so we have to do quiet activities in the dark, or go to bed. We're working on getting both boys sleeping in the same room by themselves, but so far it's not working terribly well.

Here are some pictures of the master bedroom:

This is the spiral staircase going up:

The bed(s) - They duvet covers are different colors because David had a puking incident all over my side of the bed Sunday night, yuck! Thank goodness we were supplied with a change of linens.

Our newly organized closets:

This is what they look like closed:


The The useless not yet utilized side of our room: 

The baby gate from Ikea keeping the kiddos from falling down the stairs:

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rental car, Ikea, groceries, a Castle and church!

We had a busy weekend! We decided to rent a car so we could get lots of big shopping done and finally get our apartment to feeling more "settled." The process of renting the car went pretty well. There were, of course, a few hiccups. They gave us a stick shift (seems to be the default here and I forgot to request and automatic), so Dylan had to do all of the driving. The car we got had a weird trick to getting it to reverse that Dylan's never seen before, so he had to get someone with very limited english to show him how to do that. Once he got that figured out, things went pretty well. The road signs are different here, and driving through downtown Munich (when we went to church) was a little stressful, but otherwise things went pretty well. We had a GPS system with the car, which was really nice. The car we got was a Ford station wagon-type car, so there was lots of space for all the stuff we bought.

Our first stop was Ikea, some of the things we bought there were: a collapsable toy box for the boys, hanging shelves for the boys' closet and for our closet, a pop-up tent for the boys (they love it!), toys, measuring cups and spoons, oven safe dishes, non stick pan, dish towels, placemats for the kids, a tall chair for James to sit in at the table, bins for our clothes, a baby gate, cutting boards, utensils, and a lot of things I'm sure I'm forgetting. I have a really hard time keeping the house clean if I don't have a place for everything to go, so I feel a lot better about things now. Today, I might finally finishing unpacking our luggage!

We also did some stock up grocery shopping of non-perishables while we had the car on Saturday. On Sunday all of the stores and shops are closed, so we decided to go for a drive to one of the castles outside of Munich. We desperately had to do laundry Sunday morning though, so we got a bit of a later start than we wanted, and ended up going to slightly closer, smaller castle than we originally planned. The drive down was cool, we saw lots of the snowy German countryside. The castle was not too exciting, we had to walk a good distance from the parking lot to be able to see it at all, and we had to carry the kids, and it was cold and snowy. I'm glad we went though, it was a good experience overall.

After the castle, we had an awkward amount of time between leaving the castle and going to church. I didn't think we would have time to go home, and then head back into church, so we decided to head straight to church, even though it meant we would get there super early. We arrived at the church in downtown munich about an hour before we could reasonably go in. The boys and hung out in the car, and Dylan walked around and explored the area a little bit. Thank goodness for the Ipad! That kept James entertained and I only had to worry about David. It was totally worth it though, church was great, the sermon was wonderful, the people were friendly, and the boys were happy in the nursery. I'm so glad we went, thanks to everyone who recommended MICC!

Driving back to Garching (the village we live in) from downtown Munich was kind of pretty tough, but we made it out alive, and I think we all thought the weekend, as a whole, was a big success!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What is this?

So I thought I ordered some washcloths off of Amazon. But what I actually ordered is these weird little washcloth pockets. I'm guessing your supposed to put it over your hand like a glove and then use it like a washcloth. Has anyone ever seen these before?


We decided to skip the playgroup today. David needed his nap and we had packages coming, so I decided to stay home to be here to get them. We've been ordering tons of stuff off of (free shipping!), and luckily we've been home for almost every package, but the packages we weren't home for, we had to go pick up either at the post office or at the local "Lotto" (it's like a lotto ticket/convenience store). I hoped they would attempt a second delivery for packages we missed, but they didn't. Our first missed package took us about 4 days to go pick up, and they never tried deliver it again. This would be no big deal in the US (where I have a car!), or if I were ordering a book, or something small. But since I keep ordering big house stuff, I'd rather not have to walk into the town and pick it up and carry it back here.

Here are the items I wanted to be sure to got delivered today:

Can you imagine me walking 1.6 km (about a mile) carrying the rug and carseats, and pushing a stroller through the snow? Me either! Anyway, James was very excited about the packages. He declared the carseats "very nice and comfy," and he LOVES his little rug with the roads, he's been playing cars for a good 15 minutes!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Improved attitude

I am attempting a 180° turn around in my outlook on everything here. So far, I've had a, "well we'll struggle through in spite of the fact that everything sucks" sort of attitude, and that has spiraled into a big pity party full of grumpiness and a lack of motivation to do anything. Not good. In my devotions last night I read about the Israelites complaining because God had provided them with manna, but no meat, and they were bored of eating the same thing every day. I was so quick to judge them for being so ungrateful, and then I realized that I'm exactly like that. God has blessed us with so many things, and I'm still so quick to turn to grumbling and complaining if everything doesn't go exactly my way. I'm definitely going to try to change that.

Furthermore, I have some real things to be thankful for this week! Here's a list:

James and David's "Fußsacks" arrived on Monday. I can now take them out in the cold without them freezing to death. In case you don't know what a fußsack is, it's like a sleeping bag for your stroller. For James it comes up to his armpits, and for David it comes all the way up to his chin! here's a picture (taken inside on the couch, I'm not trekking down the 2 flights of stairs just for a picture):

We've finished all of our pressing errands; applied for health insurance, registered with the police, opened a bank account and stocked our kitchen!

We both have cell phones up and working!

Brendan got us a VPN connection! For those that don't know what that is, it allows us to connect to an IP address in the US, so we can watch US television shows and access american websites like Netflix and Hulu.

I have plans! After days of staying in the apartment, and only leaving for groceries/errands, I have two playgroup type things to go to this week, and a party we're invited to next Tuesday for Valentines day.

David's napping! For the second day in a row, David is napping, and he did his version of sleeping through the night last night! (In other words he only woke up to nurse, and didn't wake up and want to play for 3 hours in the middle of the night)

I have all of you! All of the sweet comments, and facebook posts, and email have meant so much to me. Seriously, everytime I open up an email or a comment or whatever with your encouraging words, I get all teary-eyed, it's really cool to have so many people encouraging us.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The kitchen

Basically my whole adult life, I have had a small and somewhat crappy kitchen. As a matter of fact, as I've gotten older, instead of getting bigger and better, they've gotten smaller and worse. I guess, knowing that to be true, I should not be surprised by our kitchen here. I actually saw a picture of the kitchen before we left, and I thought it looked kind of nice, not that bad. Now I preface this by saying, that I'm very grateful to have a kitchen, and by no means am I whining, but... this kitchen is terrible. It is the same size as the bathroom, which is the smallest bathroom I have ever had. There is only one sink. No dishwasher and one sink. The oven is small, like a toy oven for a child or something, and the refrigerator fits nicely under the counter. It's a good thing everything comes in small packages here, I can't imagine trying to fit costco purchases in this kitchen! Here are some pictures:

The oven looks deceivingly normal sized, but it's not. I don't think you could fit a cookie sheet in there!

That's the whole room All in one picture, there's not any more kitchen behind the door or anything.

This is the fridge with our stock of groceries, drink containers can only stand upright in the door, and they are a lot smaller than the quart containers of juice or milk you would buy in the US!

The other funny thing about our kitchen is the door. I've never seen a residential kitchen in the US with a door on it like that. Apparently it is kind of common here though. I'm probably going to have to find some new hobbies, cooking and baking are just not so fun in this kind of kitchen. It will probably be good for my marriage though, Dylan was always getting annoyed at me for making messes in the kitchen back home! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No more jet lag?

I sure hope so. Last night James slept from 9pm-9am. Dylan slept from 11pm-9am, David slept from 9pm-10pm and then again from 12:30-9am, and I slept from 12:30-9am. That's a pretty successful night of sleep in my opinion! I think we all felt a little better for it too. It's currently 10pm, And the boys are doing this:

I started this post an hour ago, I was going to have adorable pictures of both boys sleeping peacefully in their beds. A mom can dream right?! One down is better than none anyway.  David was a bad sleeper in the states too, so I can't really say I expect anything else. Keep the prayers coming that we sleep well again tonight!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What's different

Maybe I'll make this a weekly reoccurring post or something, there are so many things that are different here!

The milk - It tastes sweet or something. I don't like it, but I'm hoping I can get used to it.

Shopping carts - When you want to get a shopping cart at a grocery store you have to pay for it. I guess you get the money back after you're done. So far I haven't remembered the proper change so I haven't used a shopping cart yet.

No bags- When you go to grocery store they don't offer you a bag, I think maybe you can buy a reusable one. They also don't bag your groceries at all, you have to it yourself, and you have to be really quick, the just kind of throw everything at you and then start checking out the next person whether you're stuff is off of the belt or not.

Outlets- This one is obvious I guess, but the outlets are round instead of square, and then are set into the wall, which is different.

Light switches - They're like these plates on the wall that you push down on. They're very easy for James to do. So we get the pleasure of having the lights turned on and off on us all the time. 

Bedding - Our pillows are really large and square instead of rectangular. I'm not sure I like that. Instead of a top sheet, you just have a duvet cover on your comforter and the comforter is pretty small which is different, but I like them ok. We also have two twin beds pushed together in the master bedroom, which is kind of weird.

Closing times - We tried to go the post office at 1, and they were closed for lunch, then we tried to go to bank shortly after 2 and they were closed for the day, we went down to the town hall to register and they were closed at 12. This makes it hard to get things done when the kids are sleeping in till 11 or 12.

That's enough for now, I know there were tons more and I'm not thinking of them right now, because I'm still jet lagged and not quite operating at 100%

Jet lag is terrible!

Sorry I haven't updated yet. I thought jet lag was hard as an adult, but add in two small kids, and these have been some of the most frustrating days. We're having the worst time getting the kids to adjust their schedules, and I don't really know when they "should" be sleeping, so they're basically tired and grumpy all the time. Everyone keeps reassuring me that it will get better, and their schedules will adjust, so I'm hanging on to that promise and hoping we can all stay sane in the mean time.

Anyway, we got here with no problem at all. I had fairly realistic expectation for the flights, and it went pretty much exactly how I expected it too. I had very unrealistic expectations for the boys ability to adjust to the new time zone, so that has been very frustrating. Accomplishing most things here is harder than I expected it to be. So in general, things have been harder and worse than I expected. But I think a big part of that is the jet lag and lack of sleep. I will hopefully have a much rosier outlook in a couple days.

Do stay tuned. Sometime soon I'm going to write up a post pointing out all the things we've experienced that have been different than they would be in the US. Also, eventually, I'll also write all about our flights. Till I can get some more sleep ~Auf wiedersehen!