Sunday, December 6, 2015

One year, four Thanksgivings

My week of Thanksgivings started with what I am hoping to make an annual tradition - Thanksgiving with my host family in Stockdorf. This year's menu excluded the sweet corn we ate last year and replaced last years chocolate mousse dessert with a pumpkin cake. Otherwise the menu was the same and we had a lovely time together. Afterwards we had a piano performance from Mimi and cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie. It was such a sweet evening and I'm so thankful to have them in my life even though my time as an au pair is over.

Feast number one
Pumpkin cake
Little reindeer and Chelsea ready to eat!
On Thursday we celebrated Thanksgivings at school. I was feeling a little sad in the morning, but celebrating and sharing the holiday with the children really brightened my day. We had spent the previous week and a half learning all about the holiday and on Thursday we put on our party hats (pilgrim hats and native American headbands), watched clips of the Macy's parade, made our own butter, and enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner together. I was proud of the children being able to recite the story of the first Thanksgiving and when one mom came to pick up her son and declared, ''Oh look, you're an Indian!'' he promptly corrected, ''No mom, I'm a Native American!''. Love it! Given that it is a private school, the children in my group have everything they need in life and so much more. Therefore, I felt that it was especially important that they took the time to reflect on the things for which they are thankful and I hope that this day of giving thanks had an impact on their little hearts and minds. 

Native American Headband 1 craft
Here and here are the templates 
we used...easy, kid-friendly, and fun!
Pilgrim Hat Tutorial by Skip to My Lou for #thanksgiving #craft

In the evening I met a group of expat friends consisting of four Americans, an Australian, a Hungarian, and a Bulgarian for a Thanksgiving dinner Hard Rock Cafe style. The dinner was good, but I have to say the dessert really took the cake. Pumpkin cheesecake with caramel sauce and whipped cream, that is. We left with extremely full bellies. I'm thankful for expat friends who make holidays far from home so much fun. When I got home I called my family on Skype and got to talk not only to my immediate family, but also to grandparents, niece and nephew, aunt and uncle, and cousins. Technology is a wonderful thing!

Fun times with friends

My final Thanksgiving dinner was shared with Mario. I spent the morning singing with the band and then enjoyed a Mimi and Chelsea day checking out the church's Christmas market, hanging out at my place, and exploring BMW World. It was so nice to have her around and spend time together. Seeing the world through a child's eyes is something really special and can always brighten my day. After I had returned little miss Mimi to her Papa I headed back home to start cooking up a Thanksgiving dinner for two.  On the menu were turkey legs, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and banana bread for dessert. We talked about the things we are thankful for and my heart was happy. 

Inside the BMW Junior Campus
She was driving to Italy
This year I'm really feeling in the holiday spirit! Last Wednesday three of us from the band played a gig for the Christmas party of a political party here in Bavaria.  We've also got 3 Advent calendars to open each day and yesterday I helped Mario's mom decorate the Christmas tree at their house. Nikolaus came last night and put gifts in our shoes, a tradition which we don't have in America, but I find it cute. This coming week will be filled with work Christmas parties and the children putting on a Christmas musical for their parents.  December is a crazy month, but it's also just so much fun. Christmas will be here before we know it!

Two of our three calendars

Are you getting excited for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Apartment Hunt

700 euros for a tiny one-room apartment with no kitchen? You can't be serious.  Two-room apartment, but sorry, it will only be rented to one person...are you kidding me right now? I recieved 700 e-mails about the apartment in 24 hours and now I've invited 50 of you here to view it. Yeah, that's Munich apartment hunting for you.  It has been a stressful, long, time-consuming process with something like a hundred e-mails sent and phone calls made (I swear I'm not even exaggerating) all to finally say...


Wait, what was wrong with your current flat? You might ask.  Absolutely nothing...well, maybe a few things - like how long it takes to clean, the crying baby upstairs, the fact that people walking on the outside stairs can see into our bathroom, but let's not get off topic. The apartment has been more than perfect for us for the past year, but sadly all good things must come to an end and our landlord is moving back to Germany in the new year and needs his place back. Of course, we knew this going in, but having a time limit on the apartment search wasn't always the best feeling. 

Now, I'm going to take just a moment to give myself a little pat on the back. You see, this apartment hunting process was more or less completely my job.  Mario simply has too much on his plate and looking for apartments is basically an additional part-time job.  Plus, when inquiring about a place it's much less likely that they will take a student than someone with a full-time job, so we put our best man (woman) forward and I set out on the hunt for an apartment. Oh, and did I mention that this all took place in German? Yeah, the advertisements, e-mails, phone calls, viewing appointments, documents, contracts - Deutsch, Deutsch, und mehr Deutsch.  I'm sure my accent or something that I said gave at least someone a good laugh, but hey, what can I say, at least I can be the foreign comic relief.  But in all seriousness, it feels like a big victory having hunted down an apartment in a foreign country and a foreign language in Munich of all places.  If you can do that, I think they should exempt you from an integration course and just give you the permanent residency. ;)

So, about the new place.  It's simply lovely! It's a little bit small, but it's cozy and well-kept, the price is reasonable, the neighborhood is quiet, yet we've still got a bus stop, ubahn, and grocery stores nearby, the landlady is nice, and the current renters are selling me their furniture. Really, it's exactly what I'd been searching for.

Today I signed the contract and I can't wait to start the new year in a cozy new home!