Family is here!

28 07 2012

Tobi, Mom, Jeff and Dad on the way home from the airport

My parents, my uncle Jeff and cousin Liz are finally here! They arrived early on Thursday morning and they were lucky to have 2 wonderful summer days with lots of sunshine for their first impression of Germany!

Now it’s back to rain for the weekend, which actually works pretty well because we were able to do lots of touristy stuff the past two days, and now we can work on folding wedding programs à la assembly line!

It’s nice having them here and showing them where I live! Jon, Jaimie and Abby arrive on Monday so then everyone who’s coming will be here! Should be fun.

(… WE GET MARRIED ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!!! Starting to get nervous/excited!)

Happy weekend to you all!

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Inflatable Canoeing

15 07 2012

A month or two ago, Tobias and I bought an inflatable canoe from Lidl, one of the local supermarkets. And two weeks ago, we finally had good enough weather to take it out for a spin! So we packed it up, put on our flip flops and headed to the Alster, which if you will remember, is the big lake in the center of the city.

It took a while to set it up, but we got it together and paddled it out into the lake. The freedom!

Tobias did most of the paddling, since the boat only came with one paddle. And unlike a normal canoe, the inflatable one floats mostly on the surface of the water, making it a lot easier to tip over. We didn’t fall in the lake, but we had to be careful not to shift around too much because we didn’t want to get too wet.

We went out on a Saturday evening after a long day of scouring the flea markets for candlesticks for our wedding décor, and it was just a lovely, peaceful experience to be out there on the lake. And we had views of the city we’ve never had before!

 





Happy Fourth

4 07 2012

Today I dressed up in red, white and blue and wore my Maryland necklace to show pride for my home country (and state!). As I think about my [church] wedding just one month from today (!!!!), I am a little bit more introspective about this year’s Independence Day. Of course no one knows exactly what the future may hold, but I am faced with the decision that I have made, that I am making, that Germany is the place where I will be setting up residence for the long haul. We may decide to live in the States at some point, for a few years, but I think Germany will be the place we’ll keep coming back to.

Germany has changed me in many ways, of course. I think I certainly would have been a bit different had I stayed in the States. Not bad, but…different. But I will always cherish my American upbringing. That feeling of independence that we so celebrate today, that pride for our country and for our nation and the values it stands for. A lot of people ask me if I’ll get “my German citizenship” when I get married, which is not really such an obvious assumption. As far as I know, the only way for me to get a German passport is to give up my American nationality, and there is no way in hell I would do such a thing. (Sorry, Germany. It’s not you, it’s me.)

Of course America is not perfect, and neither is Germany. There are good things and bad things about both countries, and I would be happy living in either one! But luckily Germany feels enough like home to me that I feel well here.

I think most of the reason I feel so at home here because I’ve got a man who loves and appreciates me for who I am, who takes cultural differences in stride and has never once made me feel bad for being an American. (Although he does joke lightheartedly about the fact that I like to eat cereal as a meal…)

And my guy really made today special. I came in to get dressed after my shower this morning and Tobias, still in bed, immediately started whistling the Star-Spangled Banner. Made me laugh. And then he wished me a happy Fourth as I was leaving for work. For lunch, he crafted this beautiful yogurt and fruit snack, but not before putting on a YouTube recording of the US national anthem to accompany as background music. (The anthem generally puts tears to my eyes, but today even more because of Tobias’s sweet soul!) And then he pulled out the yogurt and presented me with this very patriotic dessert.

So thank you, my love, for making me feel special today and for bringing a little bit of America to my Fourth of July here in Germany.

Now I’ll just have to go watch some fireworks (online!) to finish off a perfect Independence Day…not quite like the real thing, but Fourth of July without fireworks is a bit like Christmas without a Christmas tree. Happy Fourth!





Kassel & dOCUMENTA

25 06 2012

This past weekend started off a little badly thanks to a mild bout of food poisoning. I won’t go into the details, but let’s just say…that wasn’t very fun. But on Friday afternoon we had train tickets to go to Kassel for our friend’s birthday party, and by the afternoon we were feeling a bit better, apart from a killer headache I had on top of all that. By that evening though, we were feeling back to normal again.

Selina, our German friend from Paris, had her 30th birthday party at her parents’ house in Kassel and we were lucky that it fell during the same time as dOCUMENTA, one of the most important modern art festivals in the world. (Apparently even Brad Pitt was there this time around!)

It was a fun weekend and we enjoyed seeing all of the very strange, very interesting modern art. Here are a few snapshots from some of the exhibits we saw:

a frame (not from this year’s festival, but from another year – the city sometimes buys the art from the artist to keep around even after dOCUMENTA)

a rock in a bronze tree

Tobias and Selina (right) in front of the Orangerie museum

a pile of trash covered by grass and plants

with Chinese writing on top – can you spot the characters?

boats filled with several different types of Swiss chard

a macaroni tube you could walk through

our group coming out of the tube

a structure modeled after different types of gallows used in the USA throughout history

a very muddy exhibit…I didn’t get a picture, but there were a few dogs roaming around this one and the one dog had one leg that had been painted pink

in a dog park with different things the dogs could interact with

a roomful of sewing machine sculptures created solely out of wood

and the best-ever mannequins I’ve ever seen

another close-up of one of the “machines”

and some more suits

a pile of metal…umm…yeah.

Tobias stepping over the line…

and another piece from a previous dOCUMENTA – der Himmelstürmer

We saw a whole lot more than that, but I didn’t take pictures the whole time. Just the things I found the most interesting! I enjoyed being a tourist in another town, and I have a lot more pictures from the trip to share this week!





Soccer Tournament

24 05 2012

For the past half year, Tobias has been playing soccer with a team. It’s not in any specific league – just for fun – but they have a team name and everything. They call themselves ARSCH, which is hilarious because it’s the German word for “ass” and just so happens to conveniently spell out Altonaer Rasen Sport Club Hamburg. (Altona = the neighborhood we live in, Rasen = grass, and the other three words are the same in English…) ARSCH. Hah! Check out that logo…

This past Sunday, they took place in a tournament with 8 other leisure club teams and I tagged along to be the unofficial team photographer and cheerleader. Just kidding. But I did take pictures and I did cheer them on. It was a really warm, sunny day – perfect for spending the day outside!

The Team

My star player

The field

Tanja, a friend of ours, and her daughter Annika

Tobias and the team in action

They didn’t do too badly either – they got 4th place out of 9 teams. They almost made it to 3rd place, but then (just like the FC Bayern vs. Chelsea game the evening before!) the other team scored a goal very close to the end, and because it was the semifinal, they did 11-meter shots. And the other team just had more experience with that kind of thing.

But 4th place is pretty great and they did a fantastic job! Way to go, ARSCH e.V.!





Girls’ Night In

23 05 2012

Today we have a painter here who was scheduled to arrive 5 minutes before I had to leave to go to work, so I figured it might be good to have a contingency plan in case he he didn’t come on time. Tobias is on a short business trip to Paris, so he wasn’t around to do it. So yesterday, I rang the doorbell across the hall to see if our neighbor friends Johannes & Ivi might be around to let the painter in.

The painter came on time this morning, so no plan B was needed. But it turned out that Johannes wasn’t in town either, and Ivi made a comment about both of us being alone for the evening. So I suggested, “Why don’t we have dinner together?” And we decided that it was a fantastic idea and planned to meet around 7.

She put together a lovely salad, and I brought over some avocados and a mango, and together we had a healthy, delicious meal and sat out on her balcony since it was so gorgeous out. We laughed a lot, and she ignored my bad grammar and slow speech and we had a fun time talking and eating together. We sat out there until about 10, when it was getting dark and chilly, and then I headed back across the hall to my apartment.

Before that, I was just looking forward to watching some TV and probably eating something lazy like the box of Kraft macaroni & cheese (!!) that one of my coworkers gave me. But having some company, and getting to know Ivi better was infinitely more satisfying! She’s super-nice and we both really enjoyed ourselves.

It came up that I’d never seen Dirty Dancing before, and we decided that we’d have to have another girls’ night and watch it together sometime. “Even if the boys are there,” she said, “we’ll just kick them out and watch our chick flick together.”

We’re so lucky to have such cool neighbors, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to be spontaneous and suggest dinner. Thanks for the wonderful evening, Ivi!





Weekend links

12 05 2012

The weekend’s already half over for me (too short!) but it’s been a good one so far!

We walked down to the Elbe for Hafengeburtstag (“Harbor Birthday”) and rode a very packed HVV ferry boat for a few stops. The route was against the wind, and the choppy water made it feel like a water ride at an amusement park – especially when it hit a big wave and caused a spray of water to hit everyone on the top deck of the boat. It was pretty hilarious, and everyone laughed and screamed each time we were sprayed with water. (The picture above is of the AIDAmar cruise ship, who is leaving soon on her maiden voyage!)

After we got home and ate hamburgers for lunch, I went to the grand opening of idee, my favorite craft supply store, in the shopping center near our house. I got to spin a prize wheel and got 20% off my purchase – how exciting! I ended up buying a lot of cool stuff, including these big cardboard letters for our wedding:

I am excited that I won’t have to go very far for my crafting needs, but on the other hand…it’s a bit dangerous! Especially with the wedding coming up, I will probably be spending quite a bit of time (er, money) there!

Because H&M is right next to idee, I couldn’t resist going in there. I walked out with a new shirt and a coral hoodie, as well as a 3-pack of belts that I might use with the dress I’m wearing to the courthouse wedding. I’m not sure if they’ll work out yet…they have to match with these gorgeous shoes I talked about here that Tobias bought for me! (Thanks so much, dear!)

Here are a few fun links for this weekend:

  • I forgot about this old video we made, but I love it so much!
  • One of my new favorite blogs
  • Some friends from high school won a contest through Million Moms Challenge and won a trip to Australia to have a portrait with Anne Geddes – their picture has just been released!
  • Crazy celebrity baby names

Also, I’m pretty much addicted to my new iPhone and am downloading ALL THE APPS. I’m now pretty obsessed with Instagram (@sarahstaebler) (yeah, sarahgilmour was taken so I signed up with my soon-to-be new name!) and am enjoying a few other new apps, especially Halftone, Google Translate, I’d cap that, Booth Free, and The Daily Beast.

Happy weekend, everyone! And for all you mothers out there (especially mine!), happy Mother’s Day!








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