Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Military Family

Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for one's blessings. Spending quality time with family and friends, and the people who mean the most to you. Although I (Fi) have only celebrated Thanksgiving as long as Zev and I have been together, I have cheerfully adopted this tradition, because it really means something special. This Thanksgiving was one of my favorites, if not my actual favorite Thanksgiving so far.

Our good friends Trinity and Calvin invited us along with other Americans, to spend Thanksgiving at their house. I knew Trinity and Calvin before I even met Zev. How you ask? Calvin was the Exchange Officer in Australia before Zev came to replace him! Small world isn't it? We were so excited when we found out we were coming to Germany, because we knew that Trinity and Calvin were already here. We may just have to follow those guys around the world! (Only if they get posted back to Australia of course!!)

Anyway, Trinity did an outstanding job organzing and cooking a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner. Everything tasted sooooo good, and it was just a warm, wonderful, relaxed, enjoyable time. After dinner all of the girls went out for a walk around downtown, and as we were talking about the far-out places that the military loves to send us (one lady is heading to Poland next year, the other is headed to Guam with her husband and kids), and the adventures that those places entail, it made me realize how lucky we are to have each other.

For those of you out there who are in the military, or have served in the military, I know that you understand what I mean when I talk about the military family. It is such a unique lifestyle that we live, that it makes it all the more important to stick together and to support one another. Especially when you live overseas and want to celebrate your traditional holidays with one another.

So this year, Zev and I are especially thankful for our military family. Zev just called up this morning one of his long time buddies that he knew from college, who is stationed here with his family. We are planning to drive to their base to visit them, in a few weeks. I am grateful to our military family in the US but also in Australia, especially my brother and his family and our friends that we knew from our time with the Australian Air Force. Love and hugs from Germany Zev and Fi xoxo

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thank you, Betty Crocker

It is true that people in Germany love American cookies. They are "different" apparently than the regular cookies you find here (so I'm told). Anyway, Zev and my theory on what Germans like American cookies so much, is because they are sweeter than German cookies. And who doesn't like a nice, sweet, gooey cookie?

So I baked some Brownies for my German class and brought them in to school. They were eaten before you could say "Danke Shoen" which I thought was nice. Of course I was asked "did you make them yourself" to which I replied "yes, with help from my friend, Betty Crocker." It wasn't until after the class when my neighbor, Jasmine from China, asked me "could you please tell your friend Betty Crocker thank you for the brownies" that I realized that perhaps not everyone knew what I meant.

I wonder if Betty Crocker is friend's with Sara Lee?

Happy Thanksgiving all. Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving in your part of the world, I encourage you to take some time and reflect on the blessings you have to be thankful for. It will feel nice to do it. Just like a gooey Betty Crocker brownie.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The first signs of Christmas.

I know that we haven't even celebrated Thanksgiving yet, but I have been feeling in the Christmas mood for about 3 or so weeks now! Have you, too? I love Christmas! I think that living in Europe helps add to the romance and joy of Christmas. Every little town here seems to have their very own quaint little Christmas market. The Esslingen Christmas Market (Weihnachtsmarkt) and adjacent Middle Ages Market (Mittlealtemarkt) starts on Tuesday. I have already watched them build a little each day this week. You know I will be there. The Stuttgart Weihnachtsmarkt officially starts on Tuesday also. Tonight Zev and I popped into downtown Stuttgart to check out the ice skating rink and the beginnings of the Christmas market. It truly looks magically and the fun hasn't even started! Just all the lights twinkling at night. Sipping on hot Gluwein while watching people skate round and round to retro music. Just lovely.

So here are the first pictures we took from the Stuttgart Christmas Market. We ran into fellow Americans who also live in Stuttgart, Ryan and Laura, who were also on their way to the skating rink! Hope you guys had a lovely evening!!

Hope you have a great week, and for those who celebrate Thanksgiving- Happy Thanksgiving!

I thought their booth decorations were appropriate- ice skating theme!

German festival= German festival candy with writing on it. When in Germany.....

The ice-skating rink and surrounding tents.

A little stall being set up.

On comes the star...

I can't wait to see this model railway in action!! How cute is this model German village? Reminds me of sweet Esslingen.

The window display in one the department stores- the figures are made entirely of Lego!!

Zev looking in the store window. I loved the little Lego girl...

Little lego kids playing in a snowy German Lego land.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

German class and a whole other world out there

Hallo! Here we are practicing our conversational skills with each other- we had to role play being at a party and asking each other questions. I am standing with Daniel from Australia, Wau from Brazil and Mohammed from Egypt.

Sheila from the Phillipines, Jeong-Hoon and Moon-Hee from South Korea (very cute newlyweds) and Rachel from France. I am learning so much about other cultures and countries as well as learning German with this class!

Going to watch Leerang in concert. Amazing talent displayed by these music school students!!
We watched a full concert for 5 euro!

How cool is this organ in the background? It was amazing to see this young lady play such beautiful music on such an enormous instrument!

You can kind of see Leerang in the far back, far right. She was the only tuba player!

I thought I would blog today about what I spend most of my days doing here- learning German. I attend a wonderful school in downtown Stuttgart (along with my best friend here, Adele), and I absolutely love it. Class is from 8.30am until 1pm every day. It is amazing how much of a language you can pick up if you study it for about 5 hours every day!! German (in my opinion) is a hard language to learn, but I am getting there and can actually speak conversational German with my classmates. Our next door neighbors now just speak to me in German (and even correct me when I pronounce something wrong- like "ich wuensche dir einen schonen Tag" as opposed to "ich wuensche dir einen schoenen Tag.") What's the difference you ask? Well it's all in the pronounciation and a little thing called "umlauts." If you say "schonen" then this means "already" or something has already happened. The word with the umlaut, "schoenen" means beautiful or nice. So I was saying "have an already day" as opposed to "have a nice day." ANYWAY, I am taking these classes in order to pass the University level German entrance exam (to study at a uni next year, God willing!!). My class at this school is VERY cool- we have students from South Korea, including one very musically talented young lady called Leerang, who is attending the local Conservatorium of music here in Stuttgart; as well as students from Brazil, the Phillipines, Egypt, China, and.....AUSTRALIA! Yes, there is a guy from Melbourne, Australia in my class, and it is cool to hear the Aussie accent and banter about the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne. Here are some pictures taken by Jasmine from China, including some from our trip to the Conservatorium of Music to watch Leerang play the tuba in concert last week! Side note- even though I take German class every day, you should see Zev use the German he picks up from the street when ordering stuff at the store- he has a good ear for languages too! Now if only he would let me teach him Spanish.......Auf Wiedersehen! Fifi xoxoxo

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fall Bike Riding

Today, Zev and I set out on a fun bike ride through the woods up the back of our house. The weather was cool and crisp, and the leaves were simply gorgeous- yellows, oranges, reds, browns. Fall is really a beautiful time of the year. We definitely got a good workout, traversing through the hills (and I mean HILLS!) up to a spot called "Jagerhaus", and then on to another mountain top called "Katherinenlinde" where we ate a late lunch at one of our (ok, my) favorite restaurants in town, "Uferlos." They seriously serve the world's BEST salads there, and they are so tasty. The "small" salad is enormous and that is the one I got. Everything tastes good there, it is really good value (not expensive at all, and actually quite cheap) and you just feel warm and cosy inside like you are visiting someone's house. Then we rode down the hill to our house, and here I am, still in my bike riding clothes, posting this because I want to share with you the beauty in the little things in life.

I could just sit and stare at this gorgeous mini waterfall...the colors of the leaves are different every time we pass it. So peaceful and quiet....

Guess we can't tease our German friends anymore- when we first arrived here, we remarked how funny we thought it was that the Germans seem to like wearing matching "outfits" to go bike riding. Even my German teacher agrees that it is a "German thing." I mean, we have seen couples in their sixties cruise past us in matching bikes (very nice bikes too), matching helmets, matching spandex tops and bottoms...and now, I guess you can say we are just trying to blend in to the culture. Our bikes are slightly different colors though!

I love this man. How about his huntin' cap to go bike riding? That's my Zev!

Zev counting sheep. This was up by Katherinenlinde. First time we have seen sheep up there!!'s nice and warm here...

I'll have....the usual thanks!

I am very happy. Can't take my ear warmers off though, sorry. I don't like cold ears!

This is the "small" portion. For like 6 Euro 50 cents. Can't beat that!

You don't have to travel far to have a really enjoyable day and see something new and beautiful, and today was a perfect example of that. God bless and take care, Fifi and Zev xoxo