Living in Germany is all relative....

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute -- then it's longer than any hour. That's relativity!-
Albert Einstein

I guess that could translate into "Germany is a pretty girl" for us, because the last year has seemed like a minute!  One year ago today, we hopped on a plane in Atlanta GA and the next morning landed in a snow covered Germany. We quickly settled into this new chapter of our a lives all the way across the ocean and have continued to experience Germany in a variety of ways.  

And yes Albert, you are right, it is all relative.... there are good days and bad days living in a different country-but there are good days and bad days living in any country I suppose.   I am sure some things would be the same whether we were living in Germany or were still living in Alabama...the children would be "testing their limits' everyday,  I would be "setting the limits" everyday, and we would all miss Jason as he is gone so often earning a living to support our family.  O.K.,  so I doubt I would be taking a German class, that just like the kids "tests my limits", nor would I misunderstand most of the daily conversations in Alabama (unless I was talking to one of my yankee relatives-HA-yes, that was just a joke because I understand them 50% of the time), and I doubt I would spend nine months of the year wearing a sweater.   The hardest thing for me living across the ocean, is the fact that my family and friends aren't with us to share in our daily life; when teeth fall out, training wheels come off, birthdays are celebrated, emergency rooms are visited, a new trick is learned or a tear is shed. 

As I was looking thru the pictures from the last year, it dawned on me that because we have often had to rely on each other as we made this change in our lives, we have become a very close and much stronger family in this new life we are living.  Just as the seasons change, we are all changing, learning, and hopefully growing for the better. 

Winter-taught me...
  • how to use an ice scraper
  • how to shovel snow
  • how long it takes to dress kids when it is cold outside
  • how long it takes to undress cold kids
  • you can "play" outside when it is cold 
  • you can not run on ice

Spring taught me...
  • flowers require less maintenance than snow
  • the meaning of 'spring fever'...naked people may pop up when you least expect it
  • there are some very loud birds that migrate to Germany when it warms up
  • that I am a happier person when I'm not frozen

Summer taught me....
  • that just because it is summer, doesn't mean it is hot
  • just because the pools are open, does not mean the water is warm
  • that one can actually can sit at an outdoor restaurant without sweating
  • bugs will come in open windows
  • not all parts of the world have air conditioning
  • big red slugs "Schnecke " will bombard your yard and feel disgusting between your toes.

     Fall taught me...
    • that a year can fly past without me realizing
    • you have to study very hard to learn another language
    • that I still don't like school so much but I am not a quitter!
    • that I can live in another country happily
    • that some days will be very hard living in another country...but then again, some days are hard living in your own country
    • numerous family and friends visiting throughout the year is the key


    Glühwein takes away the fear...

    It sounded like fun (to someone) …lacing up a pair of ice skates in order to skate on a rink in the center of town with a crowd watching just to get the first taste of Christmas while listening to Frank Croon Christmas songs. 
    Well, that sounded like fun to Karina and Cooper, so off we went.   I learned another lesson; kids will not reassure when you have a fear.  As I was lacing my skates, I turned to Karina and admitted my fear, “Honey, I am scared!!”  Her response, “I’M NOT, LET’S GO!!!”  

    This can't be good- MORE SLIPPERY?
    It was another fun “first” for the Hoff family…well, Cooper may tell you differently since he spent much of the time butt down on the ice.  Not only did Frank put a Christmas feeling in the air, so did watching them build the huts for “Weihnachtsmarkt markt”, decorating of the large tree and the very warm Glühwein. (A traditional beverage prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, cloves, citrus and sugar.)  
    Let's go faster mom!
    Dad skates fast!



    St. Martin's Day

    I am not sure which was more dangerous…about 75 little children walking around with their handmade paper lanterns with lit candles or Jason joining us after being out of the country all week and looking just as hot as the candles.  (However, one blast of cold air blowing right thru his suit and I don’t think he felt “so hot” as he quickly realized he was not in the warm state of Alabama anymore)

    Everyday I am learning something new here in Germany (like they will let children walk around in the leave filled streets with real fire inside lanterns) and yesterday it was about the cultural celebration of St. Martins Day.  As all the candles were lit and the kids were singing German songs, I turned to see Cooper playing “bumper cars” with his lit  lantern and wasn’t sure if I wanted to learn anymore about this tradition.  Just in the nick of time, St. Martin arrived on horseback to lead our bright group thru the streets.

    Typically, St. Martin’s Day is celebrated on the evening of November 11 with children going through the streets with paper lanterns and candles, all while singing songs about Saint Martin.  I didn’t here my two singing so loudly…I think they were per-occupied with warming their hands over their lanterns. 

    Ok, so who am I too judge what really is "dangerous" ….not one single fire truck had to be called and I behaved myself as I held hands with "my own candle" as we walked down the streets listening to the others sing in German.  


    when life feels like a circus..

    Life has felt a little like a circus in the Hoff "Big Tent".  My children are more like two tigers fighting with each other, I am the girl walking on the highwire trying to keep my balance and our much beloved Ring Master is out of the country on a business trip. Therefore, I decided to head to the matinee performance of "Circus Carl Busch" that is currently here in Stuttgart because if you can't beat it, join it!  
    zoo "precaution" sign

    And boy did we join it...SERIOUSLY-HOW does it happen that I get bitten by a horse AT A CIRCUS?!?!  Ok, so I'm getting used to not having safety precautions everywhere here in Germany like in the U.S.  (obviously there aren't many lawyers waiting to jump on a liabilty suits here)  For example, playgrounds having REALLY tall steep slides, zip lines going fast, not all steep cliffs have a fence and the best example my friend, Elizabeth, pointed out; here at the zoo, you could, (if you were a nut) stick your arm into the leopard cage and give her a nice stroke...but thank goodness for that ONE little sign in German that reads, "Crossing the Barrier forbidden" otherwise we would all be in trouble!

    yep...it's funny!
    We both seemed to notice at the circus today, there were no barriers between us and the animals that were running at a fast pace around the ring.  That is until a fence was quickly assembled prior to the Lions taking the front and center.  However during the break, I guess they forgot to put up a barrier between me and the big ole black horse that had been petted one too many times by all the energetic children.  Note to self-NEVER think it is safe to follow behind a bunch of kids and pet a huge black horse that has danger written all in it's eyes. 

    It is nice to be home tonight in my safe Circus where the animals may be a little loud and unruly at times, but they don't bite! 
    Not my friend:)

    Please don't come running up here!

    "intermission-visiting the animals backstage"

    why is this string here?

    what are they building in the Ring?

    Now there's a barrier!!!

    Wasn't that funny when your mom got bitten?1?1


    Lessons from Dresden

    Gorgeous drive from Prague to Dresden

    We hit the road again and this time headed for some very important lessons in Dresden Germany.  It was my first time visiting a city that was part of the former East Germany and I immediately sensed the very complex history which dates back to 7500 BC, when it was first settled. 

    Since 60 years isn’t really “historic” (ask anyone that has celebrated their 60th birthday) and these years feel very fresh in a city that just came out of communism rule in the early 90’s.  I guess it is only natural that most of the focus of 
    our tours was on the rebuilding of a city that was destroyed from firebombs at the end of WWII and the recent reunification.  It was almost surreal as they described and showed pictures of Dresden “pre-bombing”, “post-bombing” and "today" on our various tours.  I was amazed at the reconstruction of this historic city and couldn’t help but think that if this city can overcome---
    all things can overcome.”
    Just like we “overcame” our craving for Mexican food.  We have not given in to our longing for good salsa & chips since moving to Germany…but vacation and Mexican typically go hand-in-hand in the Hoff house.  Let’s just say we knew things weren’t looking up for us when our chips and salsa consisted of “Doritos and chopped tomatoes!!!!”   But the look on Cooper’s face was almost worth every wasted penny when they delivered his “Quesadilla” and he started crying, “this is not the Mexican food like Alabama.” Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters. ”Victor Hugo

    I think Dresden wins the award for overcoming adversity and rising out of the rubble!  I hope the whole family has learned lessons from you during our past two days!
    Always looking for a fun way to tour with the kids..

    The best 'tour guide'

    Katholische Hofkirche after bombing

    Katholische Hofkirche today


     This church is the true definition of adversity...click on the Wikipedia link to read more Dresden Frauenkirche
    inside Frauenkirche today


    Prague with a view

    Great views!
    Today was a nice lazy day in Prague!  We ate a long breakfast which included champagne & reading a newspaper in ENGLISH (after our runs of course), reading in bed, viewing the city from the Old Town Hall Tower which was built in 1338, swimming in the pool, eating some more (since Karina has been sporting her Bindi, I decided to take her for her first Indian meal-she devoured the Red Curry chicken and Naan!) having my first 'real' Thai massage thanks to Jason's nice gift (I think I sweated more during the Thai massage than I did eating the Red Curry) and finishing the night eating some more! PR-aahh-gue!!

    Trumpet at the top of the hour

    Cooper was in awe of the trumpet player...

    Karina devoured the Indian lunch!

    About Me

    My photo
    Stuttgart, Germany, Germany
    We are living as non-military expats for a second time in Stuttgart Germany. The first time, we moved from Alabama to Stuttgart, Germany in December 2010 for three years and now are back after six years.. This is a great adventure for our whole family that we enjoy sharing.