Mar 30, 2011

tv or not tv...


I don’t watch a lot of television.  Probably has to do with my father telling us, “the ‘boobtube’ will rot your brain if you watch too much.” Once I came into the 21st century, and discovered the ‘DVR’, I became addicted to several shows.  With this precious little box, I could fly past all the commercials and therefore justify (to myself) that I wasn’t watching THAT much tv.  So, when it came time to move to Germany I knew I would have to eventually give up my DVR and begin watching my shows via ABC.com or CBS.com…or so I thought.

Once the house was un-packed, I decided to reward myself with a nice calm night watching Grey’s Anatomy.  That night I received the first of many such messages on my computer screen that read,  “You appear to be outside the United States or its territories.  Due to international rights agreements, we only offer this video to viewers located within the United States and its territories.”  Of course, I 'got smart' and decided to check out clips from my shows via Youtube.com,  only to get the message, “This video contains content that is not available in you country.”  


This past weekend we finally gave in and purchased the much raved about ‘Apple tv.”  It allows us to buy or rent movies/television shows thru the televsion (via I-tunes) using our wireless.  The funny part of this story; if we had done a little more investigating, we would have realized it would have been better to buy our Apple tv in the States.  Go figure-when buying an Apple tv in Germany…the movies will be in German.  HA! Silly us.  However, we didn’t return our new toy, as always, Jason was quick to find a solution, which involves buying them first on the computer in English then transferring the shows to the television.  

 So, I am sure this will make my father especially proud…Here in Germany, not only am I watching the  ‘boobtube’, but I am paying for each show as well.

Mar 27, 2011

Stars in Germany


I have found something Germany has in common with Alabama; when I sit on my porch and gaze at the stars in the sky they look like the same stars I often fell asleep to in Alabama.  Also, I have noticed that people here seem to have a love for sitting outside on a porch or terrace as much as any good ole Southerner.  Well, maybe the Germans ‘one up us’ on that one since I have seen them sitting outside all winter in the cafes even though the temps are in the 30s.  (This Southern girl only tried that twice before deciding that was one “when in Rome” I just wasn’t doing-not to mention it isn’t that cold in Rome.)  However, now that the temperatures have reached a high of 40 in the evening, I can sit outside on our terrace, wrapped in my quilt of course, and gaze at the stars.  The other night as I sat staring at the moon and stars, with my candles glowing just as brightly, I thought, “I am seeing the same sky my family and friends will see in seven hours”.  As I learn all of the new and different things Germany has to offer, I am also learning that there are some things both countries have in common. 

Mar 26, 2011

Food for the Soul



I enjoy constantly being surprised by all the “hidden” treasures Stuttgart has to offer.  Germany has 16 States and Stuttgart is the capital of the State Baden Württemberg.  This State has so much to offer, but you won’t find it all listed in a travel book-many things are just word of mouth.  I want to see EVERYTHING while we live here and sometimes feel like a girl that has too many birthday parties invitations and know I can’t possibly attend them all.  Even the restaurants here have certain “flair” that makes you feel like you are experiencing history.  Yesterday, I experienced this TWICE. 

Late in the morning, I met a friend at Grand Café Planie, which sits in Karlsplatz.  http://www.grandcafeplanie.de/  This outdoor terrace sits smack dab in the middle of Stuttgart’s historical center. As I sat (for two hours without begin rushed by the waiter) talking and drinking my perfect Cappuccino, I couldn’t stop looking at all the historical buildings surrounding us.  I have a feeling my friend was starting to wish she had picked a different restaurant as I kept interrupting our conversation to ask questions like, “why did King’s stop reining here in Stuttgart?”  “How old is that building?” “Which is the new castle.”  Living in an area with so much history, has suddenly made me very interested in history.  Too bad that wasn’t the case when I was in school, it probably would have made my parents a little prouder of my report cards.  As usual, I had to come straight home and ‘google’ Karlsplatz to learn more about its history.  I found out the “Square” we were sitting in was first written about in the 1300’s when it was a Duchess’ Private Garden.  It has gone through many changes over the past 800 hundred years.  Needless to say, my Conversation and Cappuccino were great.

As if that wasn’t enough history for the day, as soon as Jason was back in town, we kissed the kids goodnight as the babysitter was shuffling them to bed to head to another historic area for dinner.  "Siebenmühlental" (Seven Mill Valley), is an area first documented in the Forestry books in 1383.  It is an area that many people like to hike in or ride bikes on the old train paths.  Now there are 11 mills and at least 6 of them are now restaurants/beer Gardens.  Jason had heard about this area and that the restaurants were definitely something to write home about (or his wife to Blog about).  We had a great dinner at the mills, Seebruckenmühle. http://www.seebruckenmuehle.de/  The food was excellent and the atmosphere even cozier!  I am can’t wait to discover the next “hidden treasure” Stuttgart has to offer!

PS-My pictures turned out pretty crummy...sorry.  


Mar 23, 2011

Expat Blues...


One of my good friends sent an email asking, “Is everything o.k.?...You haven’t been blogging?”  I decided to “come clean”.  The past two weeks have been Just Plain Ole HARD learning to live as an expat- but I didn't want to complain.  Everyday I give myself the talk, “what is there to feel sad about…you are in a great country with tons of new experiences.”  Everyday, I answer back, “just be quite”  No matter how hard I have tried, I can’t shake this “Expat Blues.” I wrote her back explaining that I don’t really write when I don’t have “fun and positive” things to say.  Her response to my email (the reason I am writing this post); "Just remember that you ARE doing a great job and it is ok to let your friends and family know that some days are just plain shitty!: not everything will always be great." (She is an Expat in Nigeria-now tell me most of her days don’t fall under the category “hard times”).   

So, yes, I have been quietly singing the Blues the past two weeks.   I’ll tell you just a few things that are harder than I could have ever imagined living in another country …

  • I miss hearing my telephone ringing with my friends on the other end. (It can get it get lonely at times)
  • I miss my brother and his weekend visits.
  • I miss my close friends and our Sunday night dinners at our house.
  • I miss sweating in March (it is still cold here)
  • I miss my best friend, my husband, who is working long hours and very hard to provide for our family.
  • I miss my tennis friends…and the game (I made the choice not to fit that in between 8 hours of weekly German lessons, studying, AND caring for 2 high energy children)
  • I miss the “early morning drop-in” my friends would make while I was getting the kids ready for school..I think they liked our coffee!
  • I miss people understanding my “craziness” and considering it somewhat normal.
  • I miss being able to communicate easily.
  • I miss my hair being frizzy….HA! Don’t have that problem here. 
  • And last of all, I miss “Frank’s RedHot Original” ….the Tabasco my niece brought is close enough, but Frank’s is just heaven….

THE END of Whining
"THE END" of what “I miss”.  I do enjoy living in Germany and will hopefully get out of this “Funk” in the next day.  On that note, I leave you with some pictures of our “Family outing” this past Sunday.  We (and Karina’s friend) went to the Ritter Chocolate Company http://www.rittersport.co.uk/#/en_GB/company/history/  and a FABULOUS Beer Garden that had a “farm” and great playground.







Ritter Chocolate

Add caption

We did a little damage in this store..

Yes, this is a Beer Garden...



"Hey-Tell her what you Miss"


Mar 19, 2011

Germany Live

One of the ways I keep in touch with my family, is an I-phone App called, "TANGO".  This app allows us to video call each other free using not only wireless but also 3G network.  (In non-apple terms, this translates into "we can call one another no matter where we are and without having to be near a wireless internet connection)  Yesterday, my father tango'd me while I was doing my shopping at the Fresh Market.  He was more than eager to let me take him on a quick tour of the fresh olives, cheeses, breads, cold weather, and salami.   It was so much fun being able to share a piece of Germany "live" that it gave me an idea for the blog; why not share little "live" pieces of Germany once a week via video clips?

I can promise it will not be the same as being here with us, but hopefully, it will give you a tiny glimpse of the wonderful sights and sounds we experience that words can't describe.  To kick off my, "Alive in Germany series" I have made a brief movie clip from the Fasching Parade we attended in Freiberg, Germany a few weeks ago.  It doesn't show how crazy the festivities around town were leading up to the parade or some of the crazy antics during the parade, but it does give you a peek at the costumes:)

Mar 18, 2011

Follow-up on the Frogs....

I had to pass along this VERY interesting link.  As you know, I couldn't find much information on my google "hunt" about this 'German Frog event'.  Thanks to a an "anonymous blogger" who was nice enough to share a few links, I now have a better understanding of all the "Frog Posters"in our area.  As my fathers says, "ain't technology wonderful".  Without the help of "anonymous" I would have never known....  Here is one of the shared links from a German News site (I love technology-makes the world so small)

http://www.thelocal.de/sci-tech/20090413-18609.html 

Mar 17, 2011

Frog Legs.....

As I was finishing my run today, I had to slam on brakes and put it in “reverse”.  I often see posters hung around town announcing upcoming events, but this one grabbed my attention!  I had no idea what it read; the one word I did know was in all caps-“VORSICHT” (caution) and it had a picture of a frog carrying another frog.  I was pretty sure it was not advertising an upcoming ‘Frog Gigging expedition’ or a 'Frog-Leg ‘Fry."  I am familiar with both of these and never heard my grandfather say, “CAUTION, I am going Frog Gigging.” or my Grandmother utter, “CAUTION, I am going to fry up some Frog Legs.”  The one time I was around when she cooked this "Southern treat", I'm pretty sure I did use the word 'CAUTION' as I wailed, “Caution, I may throw-up if I have to eat a frog!”  But I did, and yes they tasted like chicken. 
It wasn’t only that one word that caught my attention.  To me, these frogs were a reminder of home.  I loved to sit outside on a hot summer night, after the sun went down and listen to the free concert provided gratuitous by "the Alabama Bullfrogs".  I am pretty sure this poster was not advertising an upcoming Frog concert.  (If you want to hear a sample of such a concert, I included a link- just click on “Hear the Bullfrog Chorus)   http://www.naturesongs.com/otheranimals.html#bfro

Hoping for some clue, I just stood staring at this poster baffled as to what it was ‘advertising’.  No clue came...so I took a quick picture and ran home to ‘google’.  Much to my frustration, my search only provided a translation of the words into English but not much else about 'German Frogs'.  I came up with a better idea; to ask Cooper’s teacher (I am learning teachers know everything!)   

Her answer, “yes, these are wonderful Frogs.  It is the time of year when they cross the road to…get married. This sign is cautioning you not to run over them if they are crossing the road.” 

Actual Sign Translation
vorsicht krötenwanderung” -caution toad migration
“um vorsichtige fahrweise wird gebeten”-to be careful driving is asked

I guess this will have to be one of those “things” I just don’t fully understand, but sure hope they sing loud! 

Mar 14, 2011

Blogger's Block

This is your latest post??
I am living in a fabulous new country, learning a new fabulous hard language, experiencing something new on a daily basis-but have "Blogger's Block".  Or at least that is what I call it.  Today in an email to one of my good friends ( who writes a very interesting blog about life as an Expat in Nigeria-check out her link on the sidebar) I mentioned I have a "love-hate" relationship with my blog.  I love writing it, but hate that it always calls my name when I am busy.  I love writing about all the great experiences we are having here in Germany, but hate the addiction.  After I concluded my email, I kept thinking of those strong words "love-hate". As I pondered over this, I thought of some other things "I hate" that call my name; laundry, my bathroom scales after 10 days of eating too many Wursts, cheese and bread with guests,  telemarketers-scratch-don't have them here, and...well...hmm...I guess that is about all in regards to the word hate.  However, I have now learned how much I say, "I love...(fill in the blank)  I began to notice how much  this little "phrase" rolls off my tongue as I am using  attempting to use German in my daily conversations.  The problem I am learning... the term "I love...." is saved for a true term of endearment and usually towards a person.  I am now quick to realize I have said "I love...blah,blah,blah" in a conversation by the comical look on my listener's face.  The most funny facial expression I received was at the fresh market.  After my ball of fresh goat cheese was scooped in the container, I turned to the lady next to me and excitedly said, "Ich liebe Käse " (I love Cheese)  I took one look at her face and knew I better run home and study some more.   I am trying to be a good student, but saying "I like very much cheese" just doesn't seem to sound right to my ears.  I will keep trying and I will post some pictures from our families visit this past week...which I LOVED!

Cristy LOVED the Zip line...

WE LOVE German playgrounds...
WE LOVE all the Gardens & Palaces


I LOVE this German toy....

I LOVE that Cooper showed me how to chase Pigeons


I LOVE my family....

We LOVE playing 'Ring-around...the bush'

I LOVE the view...

We LOVE the Ice Cream.....


Mar 12, 2011

Our New German Citizen


Tonight, I thought I would blog about the extraordinary week we spent with our visiting family exploring German.  However, I am this minute experiencing another “new” as an expat.  It stinks when your family is packing to go home.  I have said it before and I will probably continue to say it-MISSING FRIENDS AND FAMILY IS THE HARDEST PART OF LIVING ABROAD!!!  As much as I have enjoyed Germany, it is the pits not having our family and friends a ‘hop-skip-and-jump away’. 

The post about our adventures together will be saved for tomorrow or the next day. (whenever I stop blubbering)
Rather than write a slobbery, blubbering blog post as they pack, I will write about our new “German” family member.  She is the only Hoff family member that has switched to a full German citizenship (the rest of us just have a Visa).  I think I will call her “my new best friend”, even thought the moving company tagged her “the Hoff bike” at a low value.  Yes…My bike changed her citizenship-she is now officially German.  No, she cannot utter a single “Danke Schoen” nor can she eat a 'Rot Wurst' with some clean your nose out mustard…but she does look German.  I was brave enough this week to waltz into the local bike shop, speak “Bike” German (which was more like playing a very long game of Bike Charades…with me losing) in order to have her converted to a “legal” state.  I picked up my precious, (seldom ridden in Alabama) bike today.  Yup...she is ready to ride AND is now legal with lights.  Even better- she has a functional, brand-spankin new, basket for my purchases.  If you have not spent much time in Germany, I am sure you are puzzled by my celebration.  Where we live, parking is not easy, nor cheap around the market or stores.  Therefore, my ‘dogs’ (southern slang for feet) take me most places other than the kid’s school.  If you are a tourist of Europe, it is part of the glamour, if you are a resident; it is part of the butt kicking.  I really don't mind my newest exercise regimen- lugging the groceries back to the house-it brings back memories from my days living in NYC.  But in those days, I was young, carefree, and a ‘party of one’ .  I am now a ‘party of five’ if you count the dog.  However, no more complaints-I now have my beloved new German family member that can give my “dogs” a break.  To top it all off, tonight, she was THE MOST LOVED family member as she was able to handle the amazing speed in which she was peddled to the Bakery to buy the forgotten bread for our “farewell dinner”.  Once again, I realized that there is ALWAYS a positive note in every situation, and in this case, it happened to be a 15-year-old piece of metal, that until this week was “retired”. 

Mar 11, 2011

Pictures of Germany

Peacock begging
Today, as we walked past a flower stand, I heard the often said phrase "oh mom, please take a picture of that!"  However, today I actually HEARD the phrase rather than only responding by clicking my shutter.  It dawned on me-since moving to Germany,  often the kids are asking me to "take a picture"of random things we see.  As usual,  I spent quite a few minutes thinking about this new "phenomenon" my kids have with pictures.  It was a pretty strong one-coming from a 5 and 6 year old.  As an adult, I understand our living abroad and all the exciting things it brings to us as a family.  As for our children, are they are trying to capture it all in pictures-maybe because they aren't sure what comes next?  They have taken on our positive aspect of living abroad, and tend to show it much more openly.  They never fail to gasp aloud at something pretty, laugh all the way down to their belly's at something funny, play in the pedestrian zones like they were raised in the city, ride an escalator with no fear,  tell me the correct number of the train we need to take, and most importantly...try to speak the German they have learned.  As I "pondered",  I found myself wishing I hadn't deleted all of those "mom-take a picture" shots...what could be better than viewing a new country than thru a child's eyes.  I am posting the few of their requested pictures with the hope that I will continue to view  to try to view the world more often, thru their eyes!

Look-I learned to stick a spoon on my nose across the ocean
mom-the monkey is training the bird
look at him-he isn't cold
Lichenstein
Natural History Stuttgart
Table decor at a friend's house for dinner
snow
Frieburg (good thank Uncle Matthew had his camera)



Ludwigsburg Palace
peacock in a tree

Mar 9, 2011

Big News in Stuttgart!!

Ok-Get ready to be soooo excited for us!!!  The Big News here in Stuttgart...drumroll please...are you paying attention...are you ready to jump for joy...Sing "Hee-hee-he-he-HAW--Hee-hee-he-he-HAW" (you won't get that one unless you grew up with Hee-Haw playing on the television while you rolled your eyes thinking-my parents are so not cool-which is funny since I now search for Hee-Haw clips on Youtube when I get nostalgic  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=or-ZGtg3BPM)  Anyway, back to the news...I can not wait to tell you...but will make you wait another second because I have to wait until Saturday...it is the big word on the streets-well, maybe sidewalks...go grab a bottle of champagne-I'll wait...............

Back???  Ok-Here it is-

IT IS GOING TO BE 60 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT HERE SATURDAY!!!!  Hee-hee-he-he-HAW--Hee-hee-he-he-HAW

Here it

Mar 8, 2011

Germany's Roller Coaster

 
If you ever move to Germany and are missing the roller coaster ride at 'Six Flags', I have two options for you.  Option one-drive on the autobahn down to the Southern tip of the Black Forest…while trying to keep up with your ‘speed racer’ husband in the front car.  Option two-follow that same speed racer over the roads that wind thru the Black Forest, have  hairpin turns, few guard rails, and many areas with NO SPEED LIMIT?!?!?  I just don’t remember experiencing this sort of ‘Sunday drive’ in the U.S.  The scenery was magnificent and terrifying all wrapped into one.  I am happy to announce we are now home safe and sound. 

I am not sure where to even start in terms of documenting such a tremendous weekend.  So I resort to basic mathematics-
Family headed on vacation (enough for two cars)+
Black Forest +
Hotel on the Titisee +
3 children +
3 (plus) German Beers +
COLD brisk air +
Shopping for Cuckoo clocks +
Fashing parades +
Hiking around Germany’s highest Waterfall in Triber +
Eating many Wursts +
Eating many a few peices of Black Forest Cake +
Riding up the mountain on the Historic Schauinsland cable car +
Riding the zip line +
Indoor pool & sauna +
Touring Frieburg +
Kids on sugar ‘high’ from eating candy thrown from parade +
All done in 2 ½ days=Tired people going to bed now



Even Xavier managed the hike
Cold brisk air from the waterfall
Tad cold
Schauinsland cable car
Nobody scared of heights in this group...
Zip....
Freiburg
Freiburg
Fasching Parade in Freiburg

About Me

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Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
We moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.
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