Monthly Archives: February 2009

Off to do laundry!

This is just a quick update – our appliances were successfully delivered on Tuesday, so I am going to our house today so that I can finally do my own laundry! Simple pleasures, right?

The moving company arrives on Friday morning to unload our truck. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be finally moving in.

We have scheduled an appointment with Deutsche Telekom to install our phone line and internet service, but I don’t know when it will actually be installed. As such, we may not be online for a little while.

This evening, I’ll write about the snowstorm we had and I’ll have some pictures to share with everyone, too.

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An addendum to the Benediktbeuern Basilica

I had a “doh!” moment yesterday evening, related to our visit to the Benediktbeuern Basilica.

When we went in the Basilica yesterday, I found the bowl of holy water to make the sign of the cross. I noticed it was icy and thought to myself, “how funny that they would put ice cubes in the holy water”.

Then when I was going to sleep, I suddenly had my “doh!” moment: I realized that it was so cold in the basilica that the water was partly frozen.

Yes, feel free to laugh at me! 😀

My German sweet-talking skills

Sourtrout returned from his business trip in Mannheim on Saturday afternoon. Once he was back in Penzberg, our friend Jeremy drove us to Weilheim so we could buy our household appliances. We went to Media Markt, which is kind of like a German H.H. Gregg. Their slogan makes me laugh: Ich bin doch nicht blöd, which means “I’m not stupid.” The idea is that you’re a smart consumer to be shopping at Media Markt, but in translation, anyway, it’s kind of a funny slogan!

We picked out all of our appliances and proceeded to order them. The clerk ordering for us was pleased to have such a big sale, and he was super helpful. Then we needed to apply for financing since we are just getting ourselves set up. When I had been in the store earlier in the week, one of the finance clerks told me I needed ‘s passport and work contract. It turned out that we also needed his most recent bank statement because we were buying so much. He didn’t have that bit of information with him, and for about ten minutes, it looked like we weren’t going to get financed on Saturday afternoon. The finance clerk said I would need to come back on Monday.

The first difficulty is that, not having a car, I wouldn’t have been able to return until Tuesday when Jeremy was available. The second difficulty is that we would have lost out on a fabulous deal – we qualified for 400 Euros in gift cards due to what we purchased, but Saturday was the last day the offer was available. There were also a few other small details that we had to negotiate.

I was very kind, but very firm, and I told the finance clerk that she didn’t give me all the information I needed when I was in on Tuesday. Then I told her we were moving into our house and with the baby, we needed our appliances. I mentioned that since we were from the US, we didn’t have any appliances because of the difference in plugs and electrical current (and so on).

At first she seemed like she didn’t want to help us, but then she paused and then said, “Well… let me ask my manager.”

And lo and behold, suddenly everything was okay. We were then able to sit down and get our financing in order, and our appliances will be delivered and installed at our house on Tuesday. That means I can finally do my own laundry! I’m so excited about that. The only catch is that I need to have the missing paperwork for the delivery people when they arrive, but that is not a problem.

Anyway, this transaction made me feel quite proud of my negotiating skills in German. Of course, having a very sweet and well-behaved baby helped – Rosebud is quite the charmer!

Being a German teacher, of course I have a thorough knowledge of the language and I’ve always been very confident in my ability to express myself in the language. But being able to successfully ask detailed questions about our appliances, to set up all the delivery details and persuade the clerk to proceed with the financing even though a piece of paperwork was missing gave me great satisfaction. A+ for me! 🙂

Rosebud’s playmate Abi had her second birthday today. We had a lovely time, and it was especially nice for me as I met some German parents and kids. In particular, we met a mother named Veronika and her daughter Lily. Lily is incredibly cute, and she is just three months older than Rosebud! Veronika and I got on extremely well, so we will hopefully get together for tea and to let our daughters play together. I really enjoyed talking with the German parents and getting tips on activities we can do.

I am such a teacher, though. 😉 We gave Abi a book of German nursery rhymes with a CD so she can listen to it. The book is especially designed to help develop early speaking skills. I couldn’t help myself buying it, as I always have an eye out for items that are both fun and educational.

For part of Abi’s birthday party, we took a walk through their town,

Benediktbeuern.

Benediktbeuern is known for its closter Kloster Benediktbeuern and the gorgeous Basilica St. Benedikt. The founder of the convent is was Johannes Bosco, born near Turin, Italy, who is often referred to as Don Bosco. We didn’t have much time to explore the convent and the grounds today as it was pretty chilly outside, but come Spring, I would to spend an afternoon there with Rosebud. If you read German, you’ll notice that there are lots of activities going on at the convent and I gather that it’s an important part of the regional community.

I learned an interesting fact, too: originally, the town was called Benedictoburanus. In the abbey, the Codex Burana was stored – it was a manuscript of 13th century songs. It’s also called the Carmina Burana, which you may know from the musical work by Carl Orff. The Burana part of the name, as you may gather, is from the old name of the town.

We had a lot of snow on Friday and Saturday, and it’s been quite cold. I have been wishing for my cross-country skis which are packed in our container! Maybe this coming weekend, once we’ve got our stuff, I’ll be able to do some cross-country skiing. If that happens, I promise I’ll take pictures of the Bavarian countryside by our house.

We have not yet heard about a delivery date for our items, but I am sure it will be sometime this week. We are just waiting for our items to clear customs. Once we get the phone call saying that our container has cleared customs, then it will be three days or less for our move-in. The hotel has been very nice, but I am very ready to be in our own place.

Das Superbowl, registering at the Rathaus and some regional sights

Yesterday evening, the German side of our relocation company gave us a call, informing us that our household goods will arrive in Bremerhaven on Monday or Tuesday; then the container will get shipped by train down to TĂŒtzing and then transported by truck to our home in Bad Heilbrunn. At the latest, our items will be delivered by Tuesday the 17th of February (‘s birthday, incidentally). It’s a relief knowing that our things are on their way, but I’m especially glad that we won’t be moving into an empty house. That was a real possibility, because it can sometimes take five or six weeks for goods to ship across the Atlantic and then be processed through customs.

To facilitate this process, we needed to register at the Bad Heilbrunn Rathaus (town hall) and get some paperwork filled out. That ended up being today’s errand. We bundled up Rosebud, grabbed some items to leave at our house and caught the 9:30 am bus to Bad Heilbrunn. We were at the Rathaus by 10:00 am, and began the registration process. I had a little trouble understanding the clerk because he had a slight accent, but ultimately the process went very smoothly (yet another advantage of us living in a small town; the town government is small and efficient). In Germany, residents are required to register with the Rathaus. We needed to provide our passports and the address from which we were moving. Since Sourtrout has been registered in Mannheim, he did his registration separately from Rosebud and me, as ours is from our Indiana address. One of the benefits to us registering is that is now enrolled in the correct tax bracket – in Mannheim, he had to register as a single income earner, but now he is registered as “family man”, dropping him from being taxed at about 50% to 32%. This should also enable us to qualify for Kindergeld, money that the federal government provides for families with children up to a certain age. I think we will get between 300 and 400 Euros per month for Rosebud, which is a big help.

After getting our registration taken care of, we went for a lovely walk through Bad Heilbrunn. The residents there are quite friendly. A lot of them have relocated from MĂŒnchen or have vacation homes in Bad Heilbrunn. On our walk, we saw signs for the 850 year celebration of the town, as it was founded in 1159. We went past the Bad Heilbrunner tea company, which specializes in quality herbal teas. I’d like to take a tour of the factory at some point. The town and area is quite lovely, and being in the foothills of the Alps, it’s a tourist destination for outdoor lovers. It was a twenty minute walk from the center of Bad Heilbrunn to our street, Ostfeldstraße.

We enjoyed seeing our house again; this gave us the opportunity to think about where we want to put our furniture once it arrives. Rosebud will have her room in the attic; our living room, dining and kitchen areas will be on the first floor, our bedroom and library will be on the Erdgeschoss (ground level) and then the basement area will be for our guests; plus there is a laundry room in the basement and a large storage space. We also have two garages. The house layout is ideal and we do have quite a lot of extra space for family and friends to visit! We also counted all the light outlets (eleven), windows (ten) so we can buy lacy drapery, and balcony doors (three). Evidently we have a lot of lights and drapery to buy. In addition to that, we need to purchase a washer, dryer, oven, cook top, refrigerator and dish washer (although that last item can wait). Eventually I’d like to replace the kitchen cabinetry but it will be fine for now.

After we finished up at our house, we met one of our neighbors, a retired gentleman named Herr Metzgeler. I think he will be a good neighbor to have – he was very friendly and seemed glad to meet us. I am sure I’ll have lots of questions about German living for him. Hopefully he won’t mind Rosebud and me dropping in from time to time; and hopefully, we can help him, too. We have another neighbor in our Reihenhaus (rowhouse) but I don’t know yet who that person is.

By this point, we were ready for lunch so we took the opportunity to walk the SpeckerbĂ€ck BĂ€ckerei (bakery) around the corner. I have a feeling I’ll be spending a lot of time in the BĂ€ckerei. We had delicious ciabatta, mozarella, pesto and tomato sandwiches for lunch, plus coffee and heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate!). Between the two of us, we spent about ten Euros for our sandwiches and two beverages each – very reasonable, indeed. This bakery specializes in artisanal bread, so I bought a dense loaf of Tölzer Landbrot (Tölz country bread). I also bought some pastries. Next time I need to ask what the pastries are called as I didn’t bother to look at the tags. Finally, it was time to catch the 13:30 bus back to Penzberg. The bus stop is not more than 50 meters from our house. We discovered that the bus at this time of day is filled with school children heading home. I had to laugh, because I had a brief teacherly moment: I had an urge to herd kids. Haha! Once a teacher, always a teacher.

We didn’t take any pictures today because the weather was dark and cloudy. Once we have the chance to purchase lighting for our house, then we will do a video tour so all of you can see our charming Bavarian home (and hopefully, that will lure you to come visit us!). I am still in disbelief that I now live in such a beautiful corner of the world. I feel great raising Rosebud here – what an opportunity for her.

This past Saturday, we went to our favorite café here in Penzberg, the Café Freundenberg. The proprietress adores Rosebud! I love going there because the staff is welcoming and kid-friendly, and the cakes are out of this world. If you visit us, I promise to take you there.

Rosebud and Mama at Café Freundenberg

On Monday, we ignored all the news because we wanted to be surprised by the Superbowl. I believe the kickoff time would have been 2 am here, so downloaded the Superbowl instead, and we watched it on Monday evening. (Montagabend Football, anyone?) Naturally we feasted Bavarian style. In this picture, you can see our spread: Brezeln (pretzels), spicy German mustard, MĂŒnchener Weißwurst (Munich-style white sausage), vegetable salad and of course, das Bier. We really enjoyed the game, too – it was a nailbiter!

On Tuesday, Rosebud and I went to Lenggries with Jeremy and his daughter Abi. Jeremy had been there on Saturday to go skiing and ended up wiping out on a slope; in his rush to meet up with his group, he had forgotten to get his ski deposit back. So it was an opportunity for us to see the slopes.

The slopes and Stubl at Lenggries

It’s right outside of Bad Tölz, so it’s perhaps ten or 12 kilometers from our house. To give you a sense of how close Bad Tölz and Lenggries are, you can see it on this map:

And look how close we are to the Austrian border!

On Thursday afternoon, Rosebud and I went to Kloster SchĂ€ftlarn with Jeremy and Abi. Here’s a map link:
View Larger Map

There were lots of school kids in the town, so I would like to go back on a weekend. Kloster (cloister) SchÀftlarn is known for its flower garden and natural products so I would very much like to see the gardens in bloom in the spring. There are some lovely walking/biking paths nearby, so I think it will make for an excellent day trip as the weather gets warmer. It was a warm afternoon when we were there, so we enjoyed walking around a bit. Here are some pictures:

I was especially amused and delighted by this sign, which says “Bats welcome”:

Now I wish I had a car myself because there are so many other little places to discover. In time, we certainly shall! Hopefully we’ll get a car in March, perhaps an Audi A2.

Let’s see – in the world of Rosebud, she now has two bottom teeth and she’s sitting up a lot better. She’s decided that she loves cereal and is starting to take to other tastes as well. I think she must be going through a growth spurt as she’s been hungrier and taking lots of power naps. She’d getting better at sitting up, and is starting to grab on to things so she can pull herself up (although right now she is just grabbing, not doing much more than that).

Das Leben in einer Kleinstadt (life in a small city)

The past few days have been fairly quiet. Sourtrout has been home, getting better from his cold/sinus infection. Yesterday Rosebud and I took a stroll in downtown Penzberg with our friend Jeremy and his daughter Abi. We visited the Wochenmarkt (the weekly market), and although I was very tempted by some of the fresh food items, I didn’t purchase anything. One of the stands that I was particularly interested in was the GeflĂŒgelhof – a stand that offers fresh poultry from a local poultry farm. I may need to go back and purchase some Entenbrust (duck breast) because it is fairly inexpensive and as fresh as it can be.

We also walked to the Penzberger Musikschule (music school), where I inquired about a baby music class. There isn’t one for her age range being offered in Penzberg, as there were too few children to enroll, but we have been invited to participate in the class for the next age (1 1/2 to 3, I think). The class starts on Monday, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

In the afternoon, the hotel staff came to clean our room so we went to the hotel restaurant for lunch. It specializes in Croatian specialties – think lots of grilled meats. It was quite delicious and a treat.

So, Penzberg is one of the larger towns in the area, but it’s still pretty small. I can pretty much walk everywhere I need to within, oh, thirty or forty minutes. A significant portion of the population works for Sourtrout’s company, too. But I don’t mind too much. I have been able to easily find the post office, the pharmacy (as mentioned in an earlier post), the music school, various grocery stores, a couple of cafĂ©s, the train/bus station, doctor’s offices and the like. It’s rather nice to be within walking distance of everything. I love walking everywhere. I hardly ever walked back home in Indiana unless I made a concerted effort to do so.

In family news, we think that Rosebud waved at us this morning. She hasn’t repeated this trick so I am not convinced her wave was the real thing, but perhaps she is starting to understand things like a hand wave. I am teaching her baby signs, too. She is at a good age because she should be able to start understanding the correlation between the sign, the word and object associated with the sign. She’s getting better at sitting up, and I think crawling will happen fairly soon.

I’ve been working on introducing solid foods to her. So far, she hasn’t taken a keen interest in food. She’d rather play with the spoon. There’s one exception though – she really likes chicken broth. To be honest, I suspect it’s the salt in the broth. I don’t really want to be giving her salt, so when I next buy some chicken thighs, I’ll save the bones and make some unsalted broth for her. And if she doesn’t like that so much, I’ll still have some broth to make soup for us. I have tried giving her little bits of cheese and such that she can pick up and mush. She likes to pick it up and mush it, but not eat it so much. Ah well. The fickle tastes of a baby. I hope I can find something she’s enthusiastic about, because I am anxious for her to be eating solid foods.

Finding a Kinderartz and other adventures in healthy living

Here’s a little background information!

On Monday the 19th, Miss Veronica had developed an ear infection; I took her to see her pediatrician in Fishers on Tuesday (Inauguration Day!). We got a prescription for Amoxicillin in liquid form, and a decongestant. By Tuesday afternoon, she was feeling so much better, and on Wednesday we had absolutely no issues flying. She was prescribed her antibiotic for ten days, making this Thursday her last day to take her medicine.

I was most vexed by the bottle in which the medicine came. It tended to leak, which was especially problematic because one needed to shake the bottle before administering the medicine.

Yesterday evening, while getting Ronni ready for bed, I forgot that I had not quite fastened the lid to the bottle as tightly as I needed to. When I picked up the bottle by the lid, yes, I spilled the medicine on the carpet, her clothes, the pair of pajamas I had laid out… I was so angry at myself! I ended up only having enough doses for today.

In the meantime, Sourtrout was feeling under the weather, due to cold symptoms. He was sent home from work today with orders to go to a doctor.

So we set out to see if we could get a few doses of Amoxicillin for Ronni and then find Sourtrout’s doctor, recommended by his company.

Our first visit was to the Stadt Apotheke, or the City Pharmacy. It was highly recommended to us as the best pharmacy with the most knowledgeable staff in Penzberg. We were not disappointed! I was very impressed by the service, as the staff helped us right away.

The Stadt Apotheke was founded in 1895, and inside they still have all the old-fashioned wooden drawers with enamels plates, listing various herbs, tinctures and other remedies, all in Latin. On the shelves were assorted over-the-counter medicines and plenty of herbal remedies as well. I would like to go back sometime and ask if I may take pictures – hopefully the pharmacists would not think that a weird request!

Germans have a long tradition of using natural remedies (naturopathy, and sometimes homeopathy), alongside allopathy (modern medicine). Many of the clients who came in while we were there purchased both medicines and herbal remedies. The pharmacy even offered its own brand of herbal drops for coughs and colds.

The young man who helped us spent a bit of time looking in his computer list for the dosage of Amoxicillin we had for Ronni, but it is not available in Germany. So he then looked at a list of KinderĂ€rzte – Pediatricians – to recommend us Doktor Schröder for Ronni. He said the doctor could examine Ronni to see how she was doing. First he called Dr. Schröder’s office to see if it was open, and then he meticulously wrote down his name, his phone, address, hours and a little map on the paper. Then the pharmacist asked me to look at the city map with him, so he could show me how to get to the doctor’s office. I was genuinely impressed with how informative and helpful the pharmacist was. He did the same for Sourtrout, too.

We then set off, and after getting a bit lost, we discovered that Dr. Schröder’s office is in fact 35 meters from our hotel. How convenient! The office staff was very friendly and assured us that the visit wouldn’t cost us very much (Ronni and I are not yet attached to ‘s German health care insurance). It wasn’t; we only spent 31 Euro.

Dr. Schröder’s office was decorated with Tigerente characters – they are from a beloved series of children’s books here in Germany. The main characters look like this:

We sat in the waiting room while Ronni charmed everyone there. I’m not sure why, but a sign on the door asked all children to have their shoes off while they waited – perhaps to facilitate their doctor visit, I guess. The waiting room turned out to be a great opportunity for me, because I was able to learn about various opportunities for moms and kids. In particular, I picked up a brochure for Kindermusik – music for children. The Penzberg Music School has three levels of Moms and Babies Music Programs, and a new one for ages three months to one year starts in February. What luck! Tomorrow I will take Ronni to the music school so we can register for this class – I’m excited! She is going to love it.

We didn’t have to wait too long for Dr. Schröder, perhaps 20-30 minutes. During our wait in the examining room, Ronni had a great time crawling and sitting up on the table. She is definitely getting more comfortable with both of those skills. Dr. Schröder was excellent. He also asked me where I had learned such good German. While he was examining Ronni, I liked how he told her what he was looking at – what a great way to reinforce parts of the body vocabulary in German! Ronni’s ears look great, he said, and that we have no need to worry. We will give Ronni the remaining medicine and keep giving her the decongestant prescribed for her. I liked Dr. Schröder very much, so I think we’ll continue to go there.

Ronni and I went back to our apartment at this stage. Sourtrout had a successful visit to his company-recommended doctor. He has been told to stay at home for the next few days as he has an upper respiratory infection, and he was prescribed an herbal remedy – it’s a little jar of a blend of primrose and thyme oils. He was given a first dose at the doctor’s office and said he started to feel better after that. Now he has to put some drops into tea and drink it every two hours. So far, it seems to be doing him well!

So all in all, we had a successful day negotiating the German health care system. I am especially glad I have a Kinderarzt for Ronni, as I had been wondering how I would find one. Problem solved!

Note: when traveling in Germany, look for this symbol if you need a pharmacy:

*pinches self* Do I really actually truly live HERE???

This waking up in the middle of the night really needs to stop. But since I’m awake, I’ll tell you all about our walk.

Yesterday, being Sunday, everything is closed in Germany. This was not a problem, as I had done all our shopping on Saturday. So, we went native and did what many Germans do on a Sunday afternoon: we went for a 5.4 km walk. And, my god, what a walk it was. A number of times along the way, I exclaimed things like: “Do we actually live here?” and “Oh my god, I’m in heaven”.

We walked exactly this route:


(Hooray for Google maps!)

Edelhof and Sankt Johannisrain are teeny tiny little farming villages; if you zoom in on either of the little towns, those red roofs you see are barns. As you can also see from the map, there’s quite a lot of forest and it is in fact a protected nature area.

This area is rural and made up of lots of little towns. The booming metropolis of Penzberg has about 16,000 inhabitants; many of whom have ties to Sourtrout’s work at Roche. So imagine our surprise when we were walking along and ran into our banker who helped us with our accounts on Friday. Small world! It was a good thing, too, because it turns out he gave us his paperwork and kept ours. I was planning on bringing everything to my appointment with him on Monday, but still.

And now, to the pictures from our walk.
This one is along the Bichlstraße, so named because it goes to the town of Bichl. (Straße is the German word for street). Whenever we met other people walking the path (and there were many), we greeted them with the traditional Bavarian greeting of “GrĂŒĂŸ Gott”. It’s still a bit strange for me to be saying that, because I’m used to the northern German greeting of “Guten Tag”. Perhaps the difference is similar to when I say “Hi” but someone from Texas might say “Howdy”.

After turning off the road, we went over a bridge where we ooohed and aaaahed the mountain scenerey:

It was a bit chilly and windy at this point. I was wearing Ronni in our carrier and she had fallen asleep, so she was pretty snuggly warm. We originally had no idea where we were going, and I didn’t have the diaperbag with me. Since she was asleep, though, we decided to continue on the walk as we were lured by the mountain scenery behind us.

Here’s the side of one of the barns in Edelhof:

This picture features a little chapel in Edelhof, no longer in use, with the characteristic “Zwiebelturm” – onion dome. I believe this architectural feature is unique to Bavaria. I’m not sure what the story is behind these domes, so I will have to ask a native to find out.

After we went through Sankt Johannesrain, we greeted an elderly couple, perhaps in their seventies. I wish now I had taken a picture of them. Anyway, the grandmother was so excited to meet Miss Rosebud! She also liked my baby carrier and said she had wished she had had something like that. It was a heartwarming moment for all of us, and Veronica liked the attention. She even got a little rhyme with her name: “Veronika, der Lenz ist da”.

Der Lenz is an old, poetic word for Springtime, so basically that means, “Veronica, springtime has arrived” – but of course, it rhymes and sounds so beautiful in German. Very sweet!

We hope to take this walk often, and I have my fingers crossed that I meet this elderly couple again, because they were just wonderful.

Finally, here’s Sourtrout  as we headed back to Penzberg:

Isn’t it amazingly gorgeous?? I’m still in awe.

In other news, Rosebud FINALLY has a tooth!

*this is more for myself than anything, but I want to document an expression using Lenz:

sich einen faulen Lenz machen = to take it easy
(literally, to make a lazy springtime for oneself)