Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3, 2010: Germany, part four: the second week

At this point, this is more for me than for anyone else, but for anyone who wants to wade through my notes, here you go...

Monday, January 25th: We walked "downtown" for some grocery shopping and to get information for sending packages to Germany, as we're almost definitely going to have too much luggage for the airplane, at the very latest after I've picked up my maternity clothes and the baby clothes that we stored in a friend's attic when we moved to Cyprus. I'd just been discussing with Jörn the possibility of squeezing the seven of us into the VW Polo (five seats)--something we would definitely do in quite a few of the countries we've visited (or rather, HAVE done...including in Cyprus)--but would generally never dream of doing in law-abiding (and fast-driving) Germany. Jörn wasn't getting convinced. As we kept walking, we saw a Mercedes pull very slowly out of a side street and start to turn--and keep turning, sliding around almost a full 360 degrees in the middle of the snow-and-ice-covered intersection. I turned to Jörn and said, "Never mind--everyone is riding in his or her own seatbelt." So much for that discussion.

In the afternoon, we were supposed to be having coffee with a friend, but she couldn't come, so a telephone call was arranged instead. While Jörn was still on the phone, Katie, Helen and I took the train to Düsseldorf, where we got to spend a little bit of time with my friend Margaret, then I left the girls at her house and walked to the C family's house, where I picked up the car again, drove it back to Margaret's, and loaded in carseats (which we had left at their house the night before) and girls, and then drove to Mülheim, where Jörn and the other three children were already at the G family's house. Their five-year-old daughter, Hannah, and Katie are good friends and both had talked about the other (and sent dictated e-mails via their mothers) all year long, and were very excited to have an evening together. Jörn had the car of the director of Globe Europe, who was in the U.S. at the time. Another good evening, and another one where we got home and collapsed into bed.

Tuesday, January 26th: Only one visit today, from 10:00 a.m. to late evening! We spent the day with the R family in Odenthal, near Leverkusen, and as we always do when we visit this family, we went for a walk after lunch. They managed to dig up a sled in the garage, although their daughters are grown up (and we just got the news that Sophia is engaged--yay!--but we won't be able to go to her wedding, which is three days before our baby is due...), which the children had a wonderful time with. I even got on it, but only to be pushed (by the three older children) on level ground. :-)

Wednesday, January 27th: We found out that using Brad's car was going to cost us too much, so we all took the train to Viersen, where Jonathan of the T family met us at the train station. They have 8 children (only five at home now), so a van plenty big enough to pick us up, and plenty of people around to entertain each other. :-) Lunch (during which I discovered that Helen LOVES spring onions! Very strange child, but very convenient for me--she ate all of mine), lots of talking, and the K family (another five children, youngest born after we left Germany) came over for the afternoon, as well. After dinner Jonathan drove us home--such a luxury to neither be on the train NOR driving. :-)

Thursday, January 28th: Eddi (director of Globe Europe Germany) and his wife Angie made breakfast for us, here, and we spent the morning together, which was very nice. They spent five years in Pakistan, going there when their children were four and six years old, and it was really encouraging to be able to compare stories and receive both understanding and helpful suggestions about dealing with children and cultural differences with families, etc. Eddi also told us that Brad had let him know that we could use his car for something we could afford after all, so we got to head to Mülheim again with two cars, to "coffee and cake" with the R family, Angelika and Erich and their son Philipp. So much cake, so yummy! And the weather had finally warmed up a little so that snow became the "right kind"--Marie, Jacob, and Lukas each built a snowman in the back yard. Maybe when I'm back in Cyprus I'll figure out how to add photos. (That is, my friend Sue will add them for me. :-) ) When we left, Jörn said that this might be our only chance to go to Maredo, an Argentinian restaurant that he loves. We used to eat there as a family once in awhile with his father (and Jörn ate there probably a couple of times a month with his father), but it had been quite a long time since we'd been there. Marie, Lukas, and Katie only ordered a chicken wing appetizer and french fries, and although Jörn, Jacob, and I did get regular meals, I could barely finish mine after all the cake from Angelika. Jörn was also more than full, and Helen got plenty by getting french fries from all of her siblings. Jacob, however, finished his adult meal, finished his siblings leftover chicken wings and french fries (not one of the three managed to eat all four chicken wings each), and then asked for more. We said no. If he eats like this at age 10, I can only shudder to think what it's going to be like. And yes, he'd eaten plenty of cake, too.

It was raining when we left and by the time we got back to Hamminkeln, there was hardly any snow to be seen, so we thought that maybe the snow was over, however...

Friday, January 29th: We woke up to a snow-covered world yet again! The rabbit tracks all around the building were really cool. Jörn left early to run errands (talk with the bank about the fact that he'll be taking parental leave again before his parental leave for Helen has run out, pick up his glasses, and I think a couple of other things), taking Marie with him, and the rest of us left at about 11:45 for Mülheim. We first stopped at the doctor's office for me to pick up the results of my blood tests (everything normal, as they always have been, but I'm steadily adding "risk categories" with the years...), then bought Labello (lip balm, I think would be the generic term, Americans would say Chapstick, but anyway...) for all the children, then met Jörn and Marie at Konstanze's house at 1:15 for lunch. Individually made pancakes--yummy. :-) Konstanze runs Mutter-Kind-Kreis, and when we first started going, her youngest daughter was still part of it, but is long since out. We did get to see all three of her children, but unfortunately not her husband. Afterwards we left in three cars (our two and Konstanze's) to go to Mutter-Kind-Kreis/Jungschar, and after that we went to Peggy's house for dinner. Yes, we can get everywhere on public transportation if we have to, but again, it was very nice having vehicles!

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