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Adventures in Germany

Ever have a week, really a month, where everything goes wrong?  Yep.  That was me the last several weeks.  Thankfully it was not people-wrong, but mechanical-wrong.

It started with the The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine, it went out-of-order. Our hot water supply went to nil, our showers came to an end and the house got cold.  Despite some sunny days, it’s still pretty chill here in Germany.

We quickly discovered it was a lack of oil.  All four of our big, huge, tanks were bone dry.  Nothing beeped, lit-up or sang out “Danger Wil Robinson, Danger!”.  The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine just stopped working.  I quickly arranged for new oil… that was going to take 3-4 weeks to deliver.  Apparently this is something I should plan for.  Instead, I dug a little deeper & got a speed delivery 3 days later. Phew!

One day after that, The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine was again out-of-order.  We spent a weekend, thankfully a warm, sunny weekend, without water. That Monday, this Monday, was extra special.

It was the day after Dane’s big birthday blowout.  We’d spent all weekend cleaning & repairing zombie blinds (how is it I have never babbled about zombie blinds?  Sorry, I’m going to leave you to wonder today) so the house would look perfect for the invading horde.  Earlier that week my beautiful Veronica began to creak & croak.  In the shop she went for a new steering system.  So without car, without a shower, but working zombie blinds, I needed to find a way to Frankfurt to see Esther (Zesty Digi Designs from Australia) and Manu (Scraps from far-away here in Germany)!

I’m pretty savvy with trains by now, so I grabbed Dane & headed to the hauptbanhof in Stuttgart to take a big ICE train to Frankfurt.  As our little regional s-bahn pulled up, my phone rang.  Tess had injured her foot at school.  I turned back around and spent the next 6 hours discovering it was just a bad sprain.

Manu, Esther and I were all so disappointed.  And then, Dave saved the day and came home with a beautiful 2014 Audi from the rental place!  And a day off work on Tuesday to help me shuffle kids around and make sure I got my girl time in.  My hero.  Seriously, my hero.

Tuesday morning I called the guy behind The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine and pled my case.  He promised to come out in the afternoon, after the kids were home from school (to help translate for Dave) but before soccer.  Thankfully Germans understand the importance of soccer.  Even for 7-year-olds. I hopped into my fancy futuristic car and hit the autobahn.

My fancy futuristic car has a LOT more get-up go than Veronica. I put on speed control (auto pilot) to stop me from breaking the sound barrier.  In my old car, speed control has a little +(plus) button to increase the speed just a little. Fancy futuristic car had this too, and after 10 minutes cruising at 140kmph, I was ready for a little more oomph.  I hit the +(plus) button.

Dude! That fancy futuristic car took off in 2 seconds to 180kmph!  Aaaaaaaah!  It was like being in a jet plane, but on the ground.  I slowed that fancy futuristic car, and my heart, way back down and slowly sped to Frankfurt & my waiting friends.

Dave called as I pulled into the outskirts of a really big city.  Frankfurt is much bigger than Stuttgart.  Gulp.  Dave had good news, The Big, Red, Intimating, not-out-of-order Machine was fixed and a hot shower awaited my return.  As I hung up, I spotted Manu peering around some trees looking for me (or more likely Veronica) .With a big grin I found a park space and jumped right into her arms, and then Esthers.

The three of us had a fantastic, amazing, couldn’t-be-better afternoon and evening.  It was 23:00 before I realized it, and I still had a 2+ hour drive home.  I’m going to need another NL to babble about our meet, I’m way too chatty today to fit it in here.  But! I do have a picture!  It was sunny & warm in Frankfurt and we enjoyed a lovely dinner outside.  I can close my eyes and still hear them babbling.  I miss them so much already.

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I know the photo is a little soft, but it is my favorite of Dane on his birthday this week.  It is just so him.  He finally, at age 7, has his first wiggly tooth and in this photo you can still see the precious baby teeth peeking out. His hair is poking out in his trademark flip, and his hands are still small on the box.  A photo doesn’t need to be perfect to be perfect.

Longtime readers of my Personal Notes know that Dane has had a hard time making friends in our new village.  Tomorrow we are going all out to fix this.  It is our last hurrah. Our last fight for acceptance, and we are going big.  We are going full American!

Dave & I rented a bouncy house, not just a bouncy house but the biggest one our Outdoor Rec department had. The Castle.  We have a piñata, and tons of American candy to stuff it with. I have every flavor of American chip, hot dogs, ribs, corn-on-the-cob and watermelon.  All these things are not very German, and the food is not readily available here.  If this doesn’t work, I’m out of tricks.

Dane has been beyond excited for over two weeks.  I filled out two packets of Birthday Invitations and tucked them in his Schulranze (backpack).  On the second day, he was out of invites.. but that was okay, he just invited them mündlich (verbally).  I think we are expecting the whole village.

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Yesterday was not poor Dane’s day.  All week long he looks forward to Tuesdays.  Soccer day.  The hours between school and soccer practice are almost unbearable, the boy has no concept of time.  Timers, clocks, stickers-on-clocks, nothing works.  He must ask me every 1-to-5 minutes;

“Is it time?”
“Can we go now?”
“How much longer?”  It drives me crazy, and makes me wish for more soccer days in a week.  Thankfully, as spring gets closer, more soccer days will be possible. I’m counting down the days, or would if I knew what day would be The Magic Day that soccer is more than one day a week.

Yesterday we got to soccer with barely a minute a spare, I kicked him out of the car to run into the school and get his sports clothes & shoes while I went to park the van.  I go to open my door and see a very sad little boy standing there staring at me:

“Run, Dane! Run!” I yell, but he keeps standing there looking utterly dejected. I slowly notice he has no turnbeutel (sportbag) in his hands.  No shoes. No shorts.

“Oh no, is the door locked?” and he nodded his head even sadder than before, if that was possible.  Here’s the thing, one of the hardest things for me to adapt to in Germany is the concept of a shoe for every occasion.  I mean this is fine for me, in fact, I strongly encourage this for me.  I loooooooove shoes.  But for a six-year-old growing boy?  It’s an exercise in futility and expense.  Still, we choose to live here, we must adapt.

Dane has a go-to-school shoe.  When he gets to school he changes to hausschuhe (house shoes, or slippers).  He also has rainboots at school for muddy/rainy days or snowboots for snowy days.  He also keeps turnschuhe (or sportshoes) at school for the 3-times a week sports class.  This caused some confusion at the beginning of this year, during the transition from warm & sunny to cold & rainy.  Because on cold & rainy days sport is in the gym, and then you must have indoor sportshoes. Shoes never worn outside and shoes with white soles.  So he had two different pairs of sportshoes at school, just in case. All of this is uber-logical but it really, really hurts the old pocketbook and challenges a mom with multiple kids with ever-growing feet.

Dane’s feet just grew.  He is down to one pair of sportshoes, snowboots, and one pair of hauschuhe.  That’s it.  No extra’s, no spares.  Its almost spring, I will stock up then.  It does mean his school sportshoes are also his after-school soccer shoes and they are kept at school.  We do not have an extra pair at home, or an extra pair only for soccer.  So when that door was locked unexpectedly yesterday, he had no sportshoes and playing soccer in snowboots is not okay.  Yesterday Dane missed out on soccer.  His favorite day of the week.  The day of the week he looks forward to all week.  My heart broke just a little.

Thankfully today is horseback riding day.  His new second favorite day of the week.  I am fervently trying to convince him to ride a pony.  He insists he is an awesome horse rider (he did it once!) and I just need to give him the reins and he will run & run with Carmen.  I am a little nervous about this afternoon and his overconfidence.  I did find out this morning what is wrong with the ponies:

“They are too hairy.”

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