Sunday, February 10, 2013

24.12.12-30.12.12: Christmas and Bad Nauheim

Sorry for my 98% lack of posting. I seem to go through phases where I write a bit, then there is a dry spell, then I write a bit, cue another  dry spell, and then yep you guessed it another whole bunch of posts! I'm working on it I swear. Once I get home I hope to carve out a little blogging time each week, or each day if I'm lucky!
Big-ish things are on the horizon for me so keep your fingers crossed that everything works out! I still have to tell you all about my goals, hopes and dreams for this year! But hey, it's only February.... yeah no. I'm a little late aren't I? Whoops...
So back to the blog post! Remember December? Around Christmas time? Here we had no snow and it was gloriously warm! Like almost (if not over) 50 degrees Fahrenheit!!!! I'd take that over a white Christmas any day!
Germans do Christmas a little differently, but that is (yes you guessed it) a another post of its own. I have a whole list of things to talk about and trust me, one day I will write all of them... one day. That day will hopefully come in this life time, hopefully this year, and even more hopefully this month! Not going to push it and say this week because well... I have a lot going on! Sorry internet friends...
The 24th is Sabrina's cousin's birthday so a chunk of our day was spent with relatives. There was cake and coffee and more importantly champagne, hehehe. I tried this chocolate that ended up having some kind of jam in it. Not my favorite but I survived! We chatted with Sabrina's cousin and her friends. One of her aunt's kept asking me questions. I think there was a whole little group of them talking about me. What can I say, I'm a pretty hot topic around here! :)
No one really stayed too long because after all it was Christmas Eve. We headed back home, finished making some food, and headed downstairs to Sabrina's Opa and Oma's flat for dinner. Her mom's sister and her daughter Kim, and Kim's boyfriend were there, along with the four of us, Oma, Opa (who had just returned from a long stay in the hospital), and a great-grandma (Opa's mother). We had lots of starch for dinner, french fries, potato salad and spätzle along with some meat and sauce. There was salad too. Dinner was yummy, as usual. We exchanged some gifts. Oma gave me a gift too. I was beaming! Then they gave Oma and Opa a big gift, a digital picture frame! We set it up and watched for a good 20 minutes! It was fun seeing all of the pictures of the family. I think they really enjoyed it! From there we cleaned up from dinner and headed back up to our flat.
Binder/Stähle Christmas
Sooner after, we were joined by Aunt Mani, Kim and her boyfriend for opening gifts. Sadly my presents from my parents hadn't arrived yet which meant the big part of my gift to Sabrina was here yet, sadface. I thankfully had one small thing for her, so she wasn't left totally empty handed. I did receive gifts from Kim and Mama and Papa Binder, and of course Sabrina :) I was more than thrilled to be such a part of the family! I am overjoyed with the thoughtful things I received and all the chocolate.
My favorite gift was definitely the ticket to see the circus from Sabrina!!! I've never been to the circus!!!! I'm so glad she heard me say that a month ago when we walked past a poster for a circus that was coming to SG. She is so amazing. Love her to pieces!

My circus ticket and my favorite person!

We wrapped up the night by skyping with my family!! I was finally able to introduce some of my favorite people to some of my other favorite people! Sabrina has met both of my parents and my brother at least via skype (if you have a good memory you might remember her meeting my dad in Bad Nauheim in November, if not there is a link conveniently placed right there...). But they had never met Mama and Papa Binder! It was really cool to watch them "meet" for the first time! To top it off my parents had sent the Binders flowers for Christmas and to say thank you for taking such good care of me! It was a sweet moment when they figured out who the flowers were from :) Well I ended up talking with my parents for over an hour with Mama and Papa Binder close by and Sabrina right next to me. It was a great end to a great night!

We took one final Christmas picture and called it a night! I had to get a good night's sleep, I was going to the circus tomorrow!!
The 25th we had a normal morning: woke up late, laid around in bed, had breakfast, did nothing productive, etc. For lunch we had Raclette which Aunt Mani was here for! There was lots of cheese, salami and bread involved and it was DELICIOUS as usual! Maybe, just maybe I can find the means to do this back home too!
After lunch Sabrina probably worked on her thesis. But she was in the last weeks of it so I let it slide. We had an early dinner and then all 4 of us (Sabrina and I gave her parents tickets to the circus for Christmas too!) headed to the CIRCUS!!!!!!! I was so pumped!
 Inside we bought some popcorn and waited to go inside to snag some seats. The acts were either really cool or hilarious. There was a ventriloquist. He was probably my favorite. Him or when we got to bounce around the giant balls!

Keeping to giant balls afloat!
Bored at intermission

It was one the best Christmas presents ever. I loved it! Thank you Sabrina for such a wonderful night! It was an added bonus having your parents there too! :)
The 26th is still a holiday in Germany. They spend 3 days celebrating which is fun and all, except everything is closed all three days. On the 26th we spent most of our day with Sabrina's mom's side of the family at Tom and Nico's house. We played games with the boys and had lots of good food and good family time. I really enjoy my time with Sabrina's family. It makes me wish my family didn't all live so far away and taught me to treasure the time that we do have!
The 27th was nothing special. Just a regular lazy day for us. Sabrina worked on her thesis. I got ready to go to Oma's the next day.
The 28th was Oma's 88th birthday. I knew I had to go see her. I had hoped Sabrina could come with me but she had her thesis to attend to. She dropped me off at the train station early in the morning (7 am), I bought my ticket and got on the train. The train ride there was simple. I'm practically a pro at this point. I only had my half full suitcase and my backpack. I arrived at Oma's around 10:15 am and she couldn't have been happier to see me! She told me about all the calls she had received so far, specifically the one at 8 am from my niece. Apparently she babbled for a few minutes as her happy birthday to her great-grandma. She got ready for her birthday lunch and my dad's ex-wife came to pick us up. Yes it was awkward, but that's the norm for my family... who knows. We drove to the restaurant where a few of her friends were already waiting for the birthday girl! Mark, Nadine and Cutie Pie would be joining us soon, Cutie Pie just needed a nap first. Nadine's parents were there as well. I think in the end there were 14 of us (including my brother, SIL and niece who eventually showed up).
When they all finally showed up I was amazed by how much Cutie Pie has grown since November! I feel like she is suddenly sooooo big! And she is starting to mumble a few words, mostly mama and papa. We worked on Opa for a bit too. She started off a tiny little bit shy, mostly just wanting to hang on mommy and occasionally on daddy. We let her toddle around for a bit before I scooped her up and we started playing.
Toddling around cause she was bored...
My favorite picture of us to date!!!

I have come to the conclusion that my father is the carrier of the weirdo gene. My evidence is this picture.
 We had a great time at lunch catching up, talking and playing with Cutie Pie. I really was wishing it didn't have to end. Nadine's mother saw how much I was enjoying the time with my brother and family so she told me I was just going to go home with them, unbeknownst to my brother. As we were walking out of the restaurant Cutie Pie was waving at me all crazy and giving me these hilarious faces. I think it made her day when I got in the car with her! Her face just lit up! Gosh I love her.
So back to their house I went and it was wonderful. Mark had some things to do in the basement so it was mostly just Nadine, Cutie Pie and myself and boy with Cutie Pie being cute. Wonder how she got the nickname... ;)

She really really really loves books.

 Our afternoon started with her showing me each and every single toy she owns. She took them all out of the bin and shoved them in my face. I said "thank you" each time and exclaimed at how wonderful each toy/book was. Cutie Pie also has her own language as many kids her age do and it was the best I've ever heard. She sounds like some is fast forwarding her. It's hilarious. I'm also pretty sure I got her to say "Katy" at least once. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough for this proud Auntie. She enjoyed climbing all over me and especially liked snatching my iphone as I tried to snap a few good pictures of her. So I ended up distracting her with books. Now I have a ton of pictures of her looking at books, but not too many good ones of her looking at the camera. Oh well. They are cute pictures none the less. She also enjoyed using her toys to comb my hair. It was hysterical and she thought it was absolutely amazing. Obviously mom and dad don't let her do that very often.
Mark took me back to Oma's around 5:30. In the car I attempted to pester the gender of the bun in the oven out of him, but I had no luck. They found out the baby's gender but won't tell anyone. They also won't tell what names they have picked out. How rude. I don't do well with such big secrets and surprises. I can't wait until April/May to "meet" my next niece or nephew. Sadly I will not be able to meet him/her for quite some time, but if my dad is lucky enough he might just be there for the birth of his SECOND grandchild!
Back in Oma's room we played Rummikub until I was half asleep. In the middle of one of our games my dad called to say happy birthday which meant I got to talk to him too! I gave him the scoop with Oma, how she was doing and all that jazz. We wrapped it up after a bit so I could go back to kicking my Oma's butt at Rummikub. Seriously though. It was kind of pathetic at some points... until she suddenly went on a winning streak. Not cool Oma, not cool at all.
The next morning we had breakfast and sat around chatting before I had to head to the train station. A good friend of hers insisted on driving us there which was super sweet of her. I'm glad my Oma has friends like that. It makes me feel a tiny bit better about us being so far away. She is living in a great place and is surrounded by great friends. Makes my heart smile.
We were extremely early which was fine. Just meant we had more time to talk. I had to buy my train ticket at one of the machines which amazed Oma. She thought it was pretty much the coolest thing since sliced bread. After 45 minutes of sitting around it was about time for my train to come. I said my tearful goodbye not knowing when I would see her again. I boarded the train and off I was back to Sabrina.
Three and a bit hours later I was back in Göppingen getting picked up by Sabrina. The feeling of "going home" was overwhelmingly wonderful. Like I had butterflies in my stomach. And I was gone for just over 24 hours. It was weird and a little pathetic. Just means I love it here.
She informed me that she had to go visit the hospital the next day because her Opa wasn't doing so well again and her family wasn't sure he would make it through New Years. She still wanted to go on our little trip, but she needed to see him first.
The 30th Sabrina spent some time at the hospital in the morning and came back sad. It was really hard for her to see her Opa like that. A lot of emotions. So we spent some time watching funny movies and videos on youtube. Anything to make her smile again. Then we packed up for our New Years trip.

The details of that coming in the next post!

Lots of love from Germany!

Monday, February 4, 2013

17.12-23.12: Christmas Prep

I spent this week at Sabrina's again. Don't know why, just felt like it I guess :)
I had decided to bake a whole bunch of cookies for my translation class on Thursday and for my kids on Friday. I did that Wednesday and frosted them Thursday. There were soooooo many! I didn't think baking would be so difficult in a different country. But it really has been for me! There were over 100 cookies, maybe more like 200... that's a lot of cookies!
This week we ate well, watched funny movies and just waited for classes to be over.
Translation class on Thursday was nice. Glühwein and cookies. And translations of course :)
Afterwards Dayna, Sabrina and I headed back to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was sooooo yummy! This time I got mozzarella sticks as an appetizer and then a burrito for dinner. There was soooooooooo much stuff in that burrito but that made it just that much better! LOOOOOOVED IT!
After dinner we headed back to our rooms (well I went to Sabrina's but that's no surprise) and I finished frosting cookies. I attempted to get myself ready for the early morning ahead and have things packed up to go into Sabrina's car. I can't remember how well I did at that, but I'm going to guess not too well... Whoops.
I got up around 6:30, thus giving myself a good chunk of time to get ready. I attempted to take the fewest trips back and forth from the bathroom to Sabrina's room hoping not to wake her. I threw on clothes, did up my face all pretty, packed up the millions of cookies and flew out the door thinking I would almost miss the bus. Well the bus was just 10 minutes late. Slight panic attack....
The sun had yet to rise by the time I got to the school. The kids had started to gather in anticipation of the school day beginning. Frau Jung found me almost immediately and took me up to the classroom. Not too long after the bell rang and the kids came rushing in. And with the kids came more and more and more treats! The tables were overflowing! The parents really out did themselves.
Once all the kids were there, we headed to the church for a quick service. A few of the girls were fighting over who got to hold my hands. I think I had 3 or 4 total. They were happy to hold someone else's hand who was holding mine. So that helped.
We got to the church and settled into two pews. The service wasn't too long well for me at least. It was for the kids. My kiddos started getting fidgety. We sang some songs, some older kids put on a little shadow puppet play, sang more songs, the priest talked and then it was over.
We headed back to the classroom for treats and some Christmas fun! They were all so excited for the cookies. They pigged out. It was adorable.
When the kids went outside to play Frau Jung and I went upstairs to the teacher's area. I met a few of the other teachers and the principle. 15 minutes later the break was over, and we were back in the classroom with the kids.
We finished up the advent story Frau Jung and the kids had been reading. She had me help out with that too. Then it was back to eating cookies and having fun.
At the end of the day, the kids wanted to sing some songs for me. They sang the gingerbread man song we had worked on the weeks before. It was hilarious. They were so much fun! They really seemed to pick up a lot of the english. I was impressed.
Sabrina picked me up in a very fully packed car! It was crazy full. I can only imagine how full it will be when we have to try and get all my suitcases in there....
Saturday and Sunday we just sat around and got our presents (or lack there of) ready for Christmas.