Our Family News

Many of you know already, but we are expecting a baby at the end of September! We are just thrilled. For that reason, though, I have not been feeling too well and haven’t gone out a whole lot. I am now almost ten weeks pregnant and I’m finally starting to feel better. We have an appointment on Thursday, and we will get to see our baby and hear its heartbeat.

Our car arrived in Germany on February 15th, which first involved a lot of phone calls and gathering of paperwork in order to get the car released from customs.

We found out after the fact that we should have had the car shipped to us within a year’s time frame of our household goods arriving. The reason for this is because the German government could have technically taxed the car at 30% because it was no longer considered part of our household goods shipment. Furthermore, because we bought the car in October 2008 and then moved to Germany in January 2009, according to the government regulations the car had only been in our possession for four months, even though it was at our house in Indiana.

But through perseverance, a number of phone calls to customs agents and to the shipping company, we managed to get everything straightened out. The best news I got during this whole process was from the main customs office in Rosenheim, which allowed us to treat our car as part of the original household goods. This saved us 6000 Euro, which was definitely worthy of a celebration.

Then a week ago Tuesday, David traveled to the port of Bremerhaven to pick up the car. It went even smoother than we anticipated and he only had to pay 221 Euro to get the car released from customs. That is way better than 6000 Euro for sure. Then David drove about 900 km back home, with the help of a colleague who had visited family in that part of Germany, back the same day.

So now, we have our car, which is wonderful. The next part of the puzzle is getting the car up to German standards. The only modification needed on the car is to replace the headlight system with xenon lamps that can be angled and have their own wipers. It’s not a complicated modification, but it is a very expensive one. Each headlamp costs about 1000 Euro. But this is still much less than what we could have spent. And as one of my friends pointed out, xenon lamps are the best you can get so it’s like we’re making an investment in our car, albeit a very expensive one. But we don’t really have a choice, so of course we’ll do it.

Yesterday afternoon, Rosebud and I were able to visit our friends Veronika, Laurie and their daughter Lilly, who live very near the town of Murnau. We had a fantastic visit. I thoroughly enjoyed our walk around their town. And after our walk, we had a delicious apple-pear cake.

Veronika and David know each other through work and I am so glad she and her family are our friends. Her husband Laurie is a talented musician from the north of England (Yorkshire or New Castle?). Veronika herself speaks beautiful English. We speak in German, though, which I greatly appreciate! Often, Germans like to practice their English on me when I’d much rather practice my German. I live here, after all. 😉

Lilly, like Rosebud, is growing up bilingual so it’s great that our girls can play together. They’re just a few months apart, and my goodness are they ever cute together! I will have to remember to take photos next time of these two adorable girls.

Since we had our car this weekend, and since I have been feeling a lot better, David and I went out on a dinner date tonight! It was to celebrate his birthday which was on February 17th.

David took me to a local Bavarian restaurant called the Urthalerhof. It’s a Wirtshaus, which is an inn that is both a hotel and a restaurant. The Urthalerhof is basically down the road from Bad Heilbrunn, where we live, and it serves typical Bavarian fare. I can’t wait to bring my family members there!

You can order things like Käsespätzle (German noodles with cheese), Schweinehaxe (pork knuckle, often called ham hock in English) and Schnitzel. I had Pfefferrahmschnitzel – a lightly breaded pork schnitzel with a delicious cream-pepper sauce. It came with a mixed salad and buttered rice. Being pregnant, I’ve been craving sweet-sour flavors too, so I had to get the Apfelblaukraut, or apple-red cabbage. It’s called Apfelrotkohl in most other parts of Germany. It tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten. I do have a decent recipe for apple-red cabbage which I should post sometime. It’s not too difficult to make, although it takes some time and it surely is delicious!

David ordered a portion Schweinehaxe and Schweinebraten (roasted pork) with a Semmelknödel (a large semolina dumpling) and Krautsalat (a sauerkraut salad – not nearl as sour as what we are used to in the US, though).

Bavarian cuisine is definitely stick-to-your-ribs food, but it is oh-so-yummy. My friend Mia is an excellent cook, so gradually I have been collecting traditional Bavarian recipes from her so that I too can make all these wonderful dishes that we enjoy.


12 responses to “Our Family News

  1. I miss German & Austrian food so much! The Kraut is much more subtle than what Americans have grown to expect. And when eating out I learned not to order a la carte. Trust the restaurant to know what foods to combine to make the perfectly balanced plate.
    When I was living there I had the same experience of people wishing to practice their English with me. But I also found that people were very supportive of my attempts to use my feeble German. I think they were pleasantly surprised that an American spoke any German at all. Do you find that people give you bonus credit for speaking German well?

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I hardly ever order à la carte, and actually the waitress did seem surprised I wanted the Apfelrotkohl. I figure I get a special pass, though. 🙂

      You are so right about the Kraut. A lot of times when I mention how delicious the Sauerkraut is here, my American students would make faces. “We don’t like it, it is too sour and doesn’t have much of a flavor!” And in the US, is it much too sour. I think one of the secrets to the good Sauerkraut here must be that they often cook it with some sort of pork, plus it has more of that natural cabbage sweetness to it.

      The reactions to my German are interesting: if I’m conversing with a local person in my town, they rarely say anything about how good my German is; partly it’s because they don’t always realize I’m not a German. I think if I were to talk with them at length on a much higher-level topic, then they’d realize I’m not a native speaker. But for every day interactions, my accent is not that noticeable. Also, our town is SO small, it may be difficult for some of them to imagine that an American family lives where we do – even though there’s a surprising number of Americans on our street!

      If I’m with other English speakers, Germans are more likely to speak with me in English. More educated Germans (like some of David’s coworkers) try to speak with me in English, although it depends.

      Usually, though, everyone genuinely appreciates my efforts and I get the question all the time, “Wow! Your German is great! How did you learn German so well?” And then when I answer, “I’m a German teacher”, they respond with a knowing, “Ahhhh. That makes a lot of sense.”

    • Matthew Spencer

      Great news! I happy for you and David. Rosebud will have someone to play with too.
      The restaurant in area seems great, I’d love to go there when I’m over to visit.

      • bowmansinbavaria

        Thanks, Matt! It’s very exciting, and Rosebud will love having a sibling to play with, I think.

        We are hoping to take you to the Urthalerhof! If the weather is nice, maybe the Biergarten part will be set up and we can eat outside. Here’s hoping – it’s extremely cold and snowy at the moment.

  2. Congratulations! (This is librarygal (in Indy) from LiveJournal, I read your blog but generally don’t comment 🙂 But this is worth commenting on!)

    • bowmansinbavaria

      Thank you, Ruth! It’s so good to hear from you! We are so happy that our family is growing. Do I remember correctly that you have two children now? Say hello to Indianapolis for me.

  3. Kasespatzle….oh, how I miss you. Congrats on your wonderful news. I am so happy for you guys.

    6000 Euro? Ouch. I’m glad you guys didn’t have to pay that.

    I can’t wait to hear what you think of German OB care…

    • bowmansinbavaria

      I am incredibly thankful we didn’t have to pay the 6000 Euro. That would have hurt!

      So far I really like my German doctor. I need to inform myself about the difference between midwives and OBGYNS here (a midwife wasn’t really an option with Rosebud, although I did hire a doula for the birthing process). One thing I appreciate is that my doctor really listened to my concerns at my first appointment, and seems proactive. Given my history, I feel very good about that.

  4. Many congratulations! That’s fantastic news!

    All this time you’ve been talking about getting your car and I kept thinking how awkward it would be driving a right hand drive in mainland Europe….I am feeling a little foolish now.

    • bowmansinbavaria

      Thank you, Sally! No need to feel foolish at all. I did a little research on which countries drive on the right and which ones on the left. In parts of Canada, they drove on the left for a long time, but in the US, after the American Revolution, they switched to the right side to be different from England. I think that here in most European countries, it’s generally been on the right hand side.

      Historically, it’s really pretty interesting!

      According to that article, Romans may have driven on the left.

  5. Congratulations! That’s fantastic news!

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