Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 30, 2010: Germany, part two: the first few days

This was supposed to be just-a-list-of-what-we've-done-so-far, but I'm no good at that, so have changed it to "the first few days", and am now writing this sentence after having written all the rest.

Wednesday, January 19th: The pastor of our church here came in the morning for a couple of hours. I think all the children were up by the time he arrived at 10:30 or so, I'm not sure. We had a good talk with him, and are glad to feel supported by him personally, and are sad that he'll be leaving soon. In the afternoon we took three trains and a bus to Mülheim, to the very street where we used to live, but two bus-stops earlier, to spend the evening with my friend Peggy and her seven-year-old son, Florian. It was wonderful how "normal" it felt, also no problem saying goodbye, as we had another get-together with her planned already. It was a bit weird getting back on the bus in the "wrong" direction--we didn't even see our house. But a bus and three trains later, we were back "home" and went to bed.

Thursday, January 20th: This was a calm day. Friends of mine, Thomas and Caro with their three-year-old daughter, Antonia, came for coffee in the afternoon ("coffee in the afternoon" is redundant in German--"come for coffee" MEANS "come around 3:00 in the afternoon", whether one drinks coffee or not) and also stayed for dinner. I met Caro through La Leche League--she was pregnant with Antonia at the time and came to my very first meeting, and is expecting a baby in April, and is considering becoming an LLL leader herself. When they left, they took Jörn and Katie with them and made a detour to drop them off in Düsseldorf, where Jörn picked up the car that the C family was lending us until Sunday evening. We CAN get everywhere by public transportation (although we wouldn't have been able to get to quite as many places as with cars), but cars are admittedly much more comfortable and we much appreciate the generosity of friends in lending us their vehicles.

Friday, January 21st: Jörn took Jacob and Katie and the three of them went to Düsseldorf (three trains and a streetcar) to pick up the car that the L family was lending us until Sunday morning, and at 11:00 Marie, Lukas, Helen, and I left in the C family's car for Mülheim, where Jörn and company met us. I had a check-up with my doctor (well, with my "new" doctor, the daughter of my old doctor, who has taken over the practice, but I had met her once towards the end of the pregnancy with Helen) at 12:00, having made the appointment back in November. Baby and I were both declared well, and Jörn and the children all came in for the ultrasound. Baby waved and turned over, trying to hide, apparently. The due-date is still mid-June, and if I have no more check-ups the rest of the pregnancy, that's perfectly fine with me.

Then we went to the Forum, a mall connected to the main train station, where we had lunch. Currywurst und Pommes (curry sausage and french fries) for the children and me, something much less interesting for Jörn. We enjoyed it very much, having looked forward to it for a year, but I'm also fine with the thought of not having it again for a couple of years. As Jörn and Marie both needed new glasses, after lunch we went to an opticians, where Jörn was able to have his eyes tested and order new glasses, but they refused to measure Marie's, saying that a child has to go to an actual optometrist. That was a bit frustrating, as I'd counted on just being able to go the optician, and so had not made an appointment with an eye doctor. The next week I telephoned around to several practices, but the next available appointment is in March. I guess we're going to have to look for an eye doctor in Cyprus.

At 4:00 we arrived at the Auerstrasse church where I'd gone to Mutter-Kind-Kreis ("mother-child-circle", a playgroup for children up to seven) since we moved to Mülheim in 2001, where it was very exciting to meet up with quite a few friends, and quickly felt very normal. Marie, Jacob, and Lukas (Lukas for the first time) went to Jungschar (a pre-youth-group? anyway, ages seven to 12) at the same time. It was a little weird and very cool how totally normal it felt to be there, as if we'd never been away.

At 6:30, when the older children finished (MKK finished earlier, but there was plenty of chatting with other parents waiting for the older children), we drove to Essen, where we met another group of friends at an Italian restaurant for dinner. The last time I'd been at that restaurant I'd said I'd never go there again--it was full of smoke and one couple stared at us non-stop the entire time we were there, I imagine because we had "so many" children. (I'm not exactly sure, but I think we had only three at the time, which is still more than twice as many as average, and I DO remember that they behaved beautifully that one time, and I was very uncomfortable with being stared at...) However, there are now laws about smoking in restaurants, and I'm finally (mostly...) immune to being stared out, and that was where the friends (five of them, two couples and one other lady) wanted to meet, so we did. Yummy German-Italian pizza--I had spinach and ham on mine--and the waitress was very nice and if anybody stared, I didn't notice. And Katie slept the whole time, which admittedly made for a much calmer evening than might have been otherwise, but it was traded off for a wide-awake Katie between 2:00 and 5:00 a.m.

Drove home in the snow, barely able to stay awake for the drive, and then wide-awake with jet-lag once we arrived...but at least I had a good book to read, as I'd ordered the biography of James Herriot (actually Alf Wight) from amazon marketplace some time ago, to be delivered to Peggy, who had given it to me the evening before. (I haven't finished it yet, as on Sunday my friend Leigh lent me "The Book Thief", which I'm reading now. Both are very good, but "The Book Thief" has higher priority, as I have to return it to Leigh.) Oh, and on the way home, I took a little detour and drove past our house. There was another car in "our" driveway and lights on. A very odd feeling. We'll be having coffee next Sunday with the lady who lives there. It was strange to think that she could have walked out the front door while we were driving past, and she wouldn't have known who we are, nor would we know who she is. (We were the first family of the original nine in the building to leave, and the only one to rent our our flat, but since we left, three other flats have been sold and have new people living in them, so just because someone we don't know were to appear, we wouldn't know whether that's our renter or one of the new owners.)

I guess I'll do the weekend in another one--we're going to have dinner and as always, this has gotten more than long enough as it is.

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