Friday, June 29, 2012

2 -1

Poor Germany, no Euro Cup finals for you. :( But public viewing was fun regardless! And now...IT"S THE WEEKEND! It's promising to be a hot and sunny one and I'm looking forward to a little relaxation, hopefully involving tanning and swimming! Have I mentioned that I love summer? :D

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today I am thankful for the reliable and efficient German public transportation.  Because when you lose track of time the night before, stay in the city overnight, and need to get back home at 5:30am - you can! And it all works out fabulously and without problem.  Also, I am thankful for coffee.  ALWAYS thankful for coffee! :D
Life is good!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

European Adventure

One of the great things about Europe is that there are so many countries so close together, making adventures across boarders a breeze.  Last weekend we took full advantage of the closeness that is Europe and were in 4 countries in 1 day, not just driving through, but actually sight-seeing in all 4! After an exciting public viewing and the excitement of a city celebrating yet another victory, we only got in about 3 hours of sleep before the 6am alarm clock that told us it was time for our adventure to begin.  We were on the road by a little after 7 and made our first stop in Southern Germany a little before 9.  Driving closer and closer to the mountains was absolutely beautiful and the whole time I was wide-eyed and craning my neck.  After a walk through Fussen, Germany and some 11am ice cream, we were on the road again to Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles.  The area by the castles was probably even more impressive than the castles themselves.  We had a good laugh when an American tourist decided it would be a good idea to feed the swans and was promptly chased after by them. The next stop was the German/Austria boarder and some walking trails and a shady spot by the creek in the woods for a lunch of sandwiches and fruit.  After a few stop-offs to marvel at the mountain scenery, we crossed another boarder into the tiny Liechtenstein.  After storing all of our millions in Liechtenstein (ok, not really, but one has to joke about that) we headed to our next destination - Switzerland! Earlier in the week when I had looked at the forecast, I was afraid it would be a bit chilly, but the weather was beautiful and sunny and when we left Liechtenstein it was warm enough to change into shorts.  To use the autobahn in Austria we were able to buy a week ticket, but in Switzerland we found out that they only sell year tickets and that if we got stopped there would be a ridiculous fine.  So we decided to take a slightly longer road through the mountain roads and that ended up being 100x better than taking the autobahn.  The scenery was amazing and we drove through all sorts of twisty turny narrow mountain roads.  It was beautiful! Switzerland's main attraction for us was Bodensee, a massive lake claimed by Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.  Even though we had our swimming suits in the car, we for whatever reason left them there, but wanted to swim and therefore did so in our clothes.  Even sitting out in the sun for a while we didn't quite get dry, so the car ride home was a little damp.  I dozed off on the way home and woke up as we were exiting the autobahn for a short pit stop.  Mario took a random turn and found a "King of Kebab" restaurant where we had doner and geared up for the rest of the trip back to Munich. I stayed in the city again Saturday night because it was late and I was still damp from our swim and too exhausted to put forth the effort that a trip home from the center is at night.  After sleeping in a bit I headed home and enjoyed a relaxing day and even Skyped home! If you couldn't tell, I had an absolutely incredible time on the trip this weekend and everything was beautiful! The more I see of the world, the more and more I marvel at the breath-taking beauty of it all.
Sunday night Italy beat England, so tomorrow Germany takes on that next challenge for a shot at a spot in the finals! Yesterday and today have both been pretty normal days of school and home life.  The weather here is gorgeous.  A little bit cool, but sunny and cheerful.  Perfect weather to put anyone in a good mood! Also, there is a Lederhosen apron here that I occasionally where while cooking- I've included pictures haha!
Hope all is well wherever in the world you are reading this! :)

Public Viewing 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

On driving, German, piano, goodbyes, and freetime

The last time I wrote was Monday and I feel like so much has happened in three short days!
First of all, driving! Tuesday afternoon I drove stick shift for the first time and then Renat and I went out again in the evening to practice.  Of course, he taught me in Russian which was kind of funny.  I felt like I got the hang out it (except starting from being stopped on a hill...eww!), but knew I probably needed a little more practice before taking on Unterhaching own my own.  This morning Regina and Marcus and I talked about how I should get some more practice this weekend so I can drive the kids next week and that today they would just bike to training.  With that in mind I went to the grocery store by bike today when I realized that we needed some things in the house.  After taking basically every wrong turn I could have, I finally found Aldi, bought what I needed with no problem and biked home with a slightly heavier load of groceries than I had expected. Well, about 10 minutes before Bernhard was supposed to be at training he comes into the room and asks me to please drive him.  At that point I of course couldn't make him bike and be late, so after asking Elizabeth's opinion, off we were to drive to training. The driving went really well and even though I misunderstood the roundabout on the way home and took twice as long as I should have to get home, all involved made it where they needed to be in one piece and no traffic incidents occurred as I result of me.  :)
Second...German! I'm still loving German school! We're learning quickly and my teacher and classmates are cool. 
Third...Piano! I think I already wrote that the day after I got here we went into town to buy a piano because the kids want to learn.  Well, it arrived yesterday and everyone was extremely excited (including me, of course)! The kids wanted to hear me play and I also enjoyed some time with the headphones on just enjoying an opportunity to play.  I also wrote out some simple tunes for the kids to play just using note names and finger positions, so the kids are all really excited that they can play "Ode to Joy", "Mary had a Little Lamb", "Chopsticks", and such. I love seeing them excited about piano! 
Fourth...I'm all alone! Okay, not really, but Renat left this morning-saaaddd faaaccee!!! He has been needing to get back to Russia, but I got home from school yesterday and he told me that he would be leaving this morning!! So sudden! But he got a good ticket and had to take it.  This morning we said our goodbyes and it was a little sad to come home after school and not see him in the kitchen listening to music and cooking up something delicious.  From now on I'll have a bit more responsibility, but I'm not really concerned...I think I've got this)) I'll just think of it as training for when I have a family of my own haha! So yeah, that is why I had to learn to drive so quickly and experience a little baptism by fire on the road today.  
Fifth....swimmy swim and skypey skype.  Yeah, somehow I still have freetime! It's great! The past few days have brought skype calls from some friends and promises of more to come.  It's always great to hear from home, especially from my bestest podrushka! Yesterday evening Mario and I went to this nifty indoor/outdoor pool complex and ended up being there for 3ish hours until it closed at 11.  There was a water slide, lazy river, lap pool, kiddy pool, fountains, bubble jets, and a warm outdoor pool.  I think we were everywhere except the kiddy pool ;) The outdoor pool was really nice once the sun went down and it even started to rain a little while we were out there. Super fun way to spend my Wednesday night!
Phew! All of that and it's not even Friday! That's a quick (or not so quick) update on my life the past few days and can't wait to recount the fun the weekend brings!


Monday, June 18, 2012

A very full life!

Even though I do find myself with some free time here for which I am very thankful, my life here is starting to feel very full.  Full in the sense that I am busy doing something or other almost all day everyday and also full in the sense that I feel like I fit in here.  The very first few days felt a little empty, as an outsider looking in on an already formed family circle.  But now, the circle has been adjusted a bit and there is a place for me in there too! And although that place is still molding and shaping, it's a good feeling.
Last night Mario and I went to a public viewing of the Germany vs Denmark game and then enjoyed the celebratory atmosphere of the streets for a while after.  There was some slight confusion about which trains were actually running at night, so Mario was awesome and rode to the station where I needed to change lines and even waited for me train with me.  It was sooo nice of him to go out of his way for me and it made me feel a lot better having him come with me to make sure all was well.  Such a gentlemen)))
This morning I went to German class for the first time! I like the school and we are moving quickly through material.  My class is a mix of students from all over the world.  I think the countries represented among the students are America, Spain, Peru, Italy, Romania, Macedonia, Belarus, and Russia if I'm not forgetting anyone.  So fun! Naturally, I have found my place happily among the Russian-speaking females at the school, a happy little bunch of four that met up during the first break.  I'm the only non-native speaker among the group, but what's new? haha Although I don't really have time to hang out with them right after school(they invited me to come with them today), maybe we can hang out in the evenings or on a weekend.  One girl said she has a Russian friend who is also an au pair in Munich who has been a little bored, so maybe her and I can hang out a few times.  We'll see :)
After school I headed home in time for a delicious lunch of blinchiki which Renat made and vacuumed the house (ooo exciting, I know) before all of the kids arrived home.  As soon as Leni gets home playtime ensues pretty immediately.  She and her friends and Benny are so full of energy and it's really fun playing all of the little games they think up.  In a lot of ways it's a lot like how I've always played with my own siblings growing up and every day the language barrier seems to be less and less of a problem.
Tonight I think I'm going to stay in for the first night since I got here, but it will be kind of nice to get to bed a little early and relax.  I think my next biggest adventure in the next few days (besides the exciting Saturday trip Mario and I are planning) is that I will soon be learning to drive stick shift! I'll let you all know how that one goes haha Wish me luck!

Today's Silliness!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pictures from Friday's Adventuring

Starnberger See and Hide and Seek

"Let us play!" has become Leni's favorite and best English phrase.  Saturday late morning when her and her friend Lina came into my room and shyly asked me to play with them,of course I agreed.  A couple hours later after tag, hide and seek, hula hoop, catch, and monopoly, I had to cut our playdate short to head out to Starnberger See (Lake Starnberg).  Mario and I met up, hopped on the S-bahn, and when we saw that gorgeous, clear lake, we knew we were at the right metro stop.  We walked for a bit to find a good spot along the water and then laid under the unbelievably bright sun until we had to give in to the icy cold waters of the lake.  And I really mean icy cold! It felt wonderful though and by the time we went in for a second dip, we had almost completely dried from our first time in the lake! By the time we left our little place by the lake the sun was starting to ease up and we walked around for a while before getting doner to eat.  The region where the lake is is quite cute and they were having a festival of some sort which had the town center alive and full of celebrating Germans.  After doner we walked and sat by the lake a bit more before going into Munich to walk around.   On the train ride back to the city we had to make a little stop.  You see, one of the types of train tickets you can buy here works on a system of stamps, the number of stamps needed determined by how far you are traveling.  We each only had 2 spaces left for stamps on our tickets and the ticket machine wasn't working, so we had to risk it.  Well, just our luck the ticket control men started walking through our car.  We really had no idea whether or not our two stamps were enough for how far we had already ridden, but we ducked out before they could check our tickets.  That ended up being for the best because we found out that if they would have checked, we were illegally riding....don't want that 40 euro fine!!! When we got off, we decided to walk around a bit while we waited for the next train in our direction.  Upon leaving the station we were immediately met by a women with a bunch of bags of stuff she had bought and one had a broken handle, so she needed our help to carry it to her apartment.  She said it wasn't far so we agreed and helped her carry her stuff while she chatted non-stop the whole way.  I don't know exactly at what point she realized I didn't understand a word coming out of her mouth haha! It was a beautiful summer night though and we walked in some places I hadn't yet been in Munich and even saw the building where the Ukrainian Consulate is! :)
Today I played with Leni, Bernhard, and Leni's friend most of the day.  It's fun how we somehow communicate despite our lack of shared language.  I'm starting to understand words and phrases that the kids say a lot and I try to throw in some of the few German words I know when I can. The older kids understand English a little better and every once in a while employ the help of a translator. I was even able to teach them 4 or 5 card games that they had never played before. When I first got here I thought the kids were a little scared of me, so I'm happy to be doing stuff with them now after a few days here.  I think that as I learn more German it will be easier too.  After all, I still have quite a while left here! :)

Lake Starnberg
Austrian mountains in the distance

Friday, June 15, 2012

It always rains in Germany...

Or at least that is how I felt the first couple of days. Coming from the HOT Indiana weather we were having to cold and rainy wasn't too fun, but the sun has finally come out and warmed weather has arrived. Wednesday night we went to a public viewing of the Germany vs Netherlands game.  Everyone was celebrating the win, but I think the rain put a bit of a damper on the mood. Oh well, we had umbrellas and by the time we left the center it was hardly raining. Renat and I heard a rousing rendition of "We are the Champions" on the metro ride home! My excitement Thursday was going into the city by myself to register for German language classes.  I found the school with no problem and because everything in my life is all Russian all the time, the woman who registered me was from Russia and we spoke to each other only in Russian. I start class Monday and will go every day from 9-12 yay!! When I got out of the metro I saw a sign pointing towards TU Munchen, so I decided to go wander around the campus for a bit before heading back home.  In the evening Mario and I met up and went walking in the center.  Twas lovely as always, especially without rain)))
This morning I woke up early to help Regina with breakfast because Marcus is out of town.  I think I will get up early and help every morning because I'll have to get ready for school anyhow and I like getting up early.  A little later in the morning Renat and I biked to a public pool nearby and laid out, went down the slide, jumped off the tall diving boards, and laid out some more.  It was so much fun and it was nice to enjoy some summer weather. Also it was nice how few people were there.  Just some grandmothers and babies really. I'm glad Renat and I get along and are becoming friends.  It's nice to have someone else around to do stuff with, especially since I haven't started school yet.  And, of course, it's lovely to be able to chat in Russian all day long! After a couple of nice hours of summertime fun we biked home Renat made lunch.  Who knows what adventures this weekend will bring! Perhaps a trip to the club?? ;)

German pool time!
Tanning! Everything is so green!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Willkommen in Deutschland!

I made it! Twenty hours of travel, with a technical delay in Chicago resulting in a missed flight in Warsaw, getting on a new flight in Warsaw, and arriving in Munich for a short car trip to the family's home! Markus (the dad in the family) picked me up at the airport and when I got home Regina (the mom), their two sons, nephew, and other au pair were there to meet me.  We had a little something to eat and chatted a bit, but I was pretty tired and really in need of a shower, so after a little bit I headed upstairs to settle in a bit.  I skyped with Mom and showed her my cute little room before calling it a night.  Regina said that I should rest on Tuesday and even though I woke up several times throughout the night, I actually got out of bed around 11.  No one was home, so I ate a banana and read a little until Renat came home from language school.  When the youngest daughter Leni got home from school we went into the city to buy a piano! Leni has been wanting to learn for a really long time now and she is finally going to get her wish! I'm excited that there will be a piano in the house and am looking forward to helping her learn.  I'm thinking about enrolling in a language class because I would really like to learn some German. I think I will start a class in July because I'm about about a week late for the June start date at this particular school and I want to get the full time out of the program. Until then I'll just learn a little on my own and Regina told Leni she has to teach me one German word per day :)
Last night after a dinner of yummy Bavarian soup I was sitting in my room when I heard shouts of excitement that the cat had her babies! The cat came home Monday night after being out for a week or so according to Marcus, so I guess she was back just in time to give birth to those little kittens.  After the kitten excitement I left to go meet up with Mario. We met up at my S-bahn stop and headed into the city.  We walked around for a bit, but neither one of us was really enjoying the rain, so we went into a place called Hofbrauhaus.  It's basically the most stereotypical Bavarian place around and loaded with tourists drinking beer, listening to a live band play music, and chuckling at the lederhosen-clad staff. I had my first German beer there and I liked it well enough for someone who generally doesn't like beer.  Maybe German beer is just better ;) On the train ride home I took a look at the gift Mario gave me, a book of our memories and photos which he had made and titled "История Двух Русскоговорящих Людей".  I don't care if I looked like a complete fool because I was smiling from ear to ear reading through that book.  I undoubtedly have THE best German boy ever!!! 
I got home around midnight and went to sleep shortly after.  I didn't sleep in much this morning, but by the time I was showered and dressed the family had left for the day, so I went downstairs and cleaned-up the kitchen and had some coffee and breakfast.  I know I'm crazy, but I really love such housework and cleaning! :D

My adorable purple bed in my adorable perfect room!

A count -up (?) I made on the day Mario and I said our good-byes in London.  I stopped it when I received his text that said he was at the Unterhaching station :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wedding Festivities

A hot, sunny June day-perfect for a wedding.  The most beautiful couple I ever did see.  Just a small gathering of immediate family before I leave the country tomorrow.  The big wedding with beautiful dresses and lots of friends will be in August. But vows were exchanged, a marriage license was signed, and they promised before God and before man to love each other all the days of their lives.  I've never cried at a wedding before, but tears were slipping out of most everyone's eyes in those sweet sweet moments.  They are going to have a happy, blessed, wonderful life together!

more vows

OH NO! Kissing!!! haha
More kissing!
Happy family!
Mother of the bride!
Beautiful Ladies!
Logan's not so sure about taking pictures!
My favorite picture!
Marriage license
marriage license 
and more marriage license