Monday, July 25, 2011

Ride down Memory Lane

Hi everyone! How are YOU doing?
I am "in between" projects right now for the next few weeks and it is kind of a weird feeling to be in! I just graduated last Wednesday and was busy for the last year working on my Masters program and then come first of September I will ramp up my business again (investigating equal employment discrimination for the federal govt) but having free time to do what I choose to do for a WHOLE day has been wonderful! Zev still has to work a few more days before we fly out, but he will thankfully be home for the last part of our move (car and last few items). Anyway, I feel very lucky to have this "free" time to spend as I wish before things get busy again. I have decided to take advantage of this blessing of time by getting back into "shape" in all areas: fitness, healthy eating and most importantly, my daily devotional time. Zev said something really insightful to me on his daily telephone conversation with me on his ride home from work. He told me that ideally, we have this work/ life balance ALL the time, so that we spend time with family but also get to relax and recharge our batteries.
So today I set out on a bike ride down to Stuttgart. It is not a "local" bike ride but rather one that involves hills and takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes each way (probably longer on the return leg because of the hill back to our house). The bike ride path is quite picturesque and takes you past the Mercedes Benz factory and the central park near the Stuttgart zoo. One thing I hadn´t seen before is the "protest camp" just outside the main station downtown. A big issue in Stuttgart at the moment is the "Stuttgart 21" project, which is all about the expansion of the main station (to make it an underground station). There is a "standing" protest every Monday afternoon. The protesters have set up tents in the down town park area near the main station, including tee pees and tibetan flags. It´s all very interesting. The first thing that popped into my mind when I rode through this was "is this Woodstock 2011 or Stuttgart 21?"!!!)
I had no real agenda on my bike ride today; just get out and get some exercise, enjoy nature and appreciate the last mental "snapshots" of beautiful Stuttgart before we depart this country. Once I reached Schlossplatz I bought a newspaper and a coffee and just sat down on the soft grass and enjoyed watching life going by.
I looked over to my left and saw the pizza place where Zev and I came and sat on the steps the very first night we arrived in Germany, almost 3 years ago. I can´t believe how much we have seen and done in that time! Zev and I have decided that we will have a special date night the night before we fly home, where we come downtown and "relieve memory lane" again and get a pizza and sit on the steps watch life go by.....I am looking forward to that.
Ironically, the front cover of the Stuttgarter Zeitung had a small article about the "Stuttgart 21" big drama I tell you! This project even swayed the recent state elections in favor of the Green party! I am all in favor of saving the greenery and parklands around Stuttgart, but my problem is that most of the people I ask about the project (local Stuttgart folk) don´t even know what the project is all about, or why they are protesting.
On my ride up the hill, I made sure to appreciate the view of Esslingen. This will probably not mean anything to most of you, but I want to record it on our blog so that we can remember the names we had for things when we flick through our blog books in the future. I rode up "Voyeaur Hill" (not to be confused with "Turk Hill" and will probably ride up "Curly Wurly" or maybe just "Enchanted Forest" tomorrow. Zev likes to run "Dive Shop" or "Dive Shop Extended". I love the names we made up for our runs.)
Tomorrow I am going to appreciate some more of the simple things in life. Good night for now...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Dinner with Prof. Dr. Kinzig and family

Last night Zev and I, along with fellow LLM Graduate Antonios from Greece, were invited to the home of my thesis supervisor, Prof. Dr. Kinzig.
It was a real honor to be invited to his lovely home. His wife put on an awesome gourmet smorgasbord of lots of different types of cheeses, bread, prosciutto, melons and olives. It was very Meditteranean! She also cooked this delicious ham and leek quiche and told us that she made the crust from scratch!
Prof. Kinzig´s 3 kids were really cute. The little girls asked me to read them some books and even gave me some pointers on the names of animals that I didn´t know!! They were really good kids.
His little son was such a happy, pleasant baby and just looked at us with his big blue eyes.
Antonios flies back to Greece today. Bon Voyage Antonios and best wishes for your future!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Yesterday was my graduation day from the University of Tübingen!
It was great to have my German teacher, Ulla and her husband, Manfred there for support.
It was even better to have THE BEST and MOST PATIENT husband in the world right there by my side. He really is worth his weight in gold, he is. Not only did Zev sit through 3 hours of the Graduation ceremony, but he also took tons of pictures and mingled with the international LLM Group. Sweetie...
My LLM Group on the stage after we received our degrees.
We took Ulla and Manfred out for "Kaffee und Kuchen" afterwards.
Then Zev and I headed to the University private guest house for the LLM after party/ dinner. Such a great day! Such great experiences from an intense but rewarding year. Not only did I learn academic stuff, I also learned a lot about other cultures and grew to appreciate my husband even more than ever. Now I call THAT a real education!
Take care, love Fi xo

Monday, July 18, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen does not mean "goodbye"!

I love how the German words for "goodbye" (Auf Wiedersehen) do not even mean "goodbye"; they mean "until I see you again" (wieder means "again" and sehen means "see"). As with our previous moves, the last 4 weeks are busy with catching up with friends, saying "until I see you again" and of course getting caught up with the last minute things that go hand in hand with each move. I had my finals at uni last week and was busy studying for those. I must say here that Zev has been an incredibly supportive and encouraging husband during the length of my Masters of Laws degree here (it started on October 15th last year and I will graduate this Wednesday!) I also give Glory to God for sustaining me and listening to my constant prayer for peace and patience in studying. The language barrier was the biggest challenge of this degree as well as the challenge to keep going when my eyes were tired and the German words didn´t make sense. So, as a result of a busy past couple of weeks, I haven´t had time to post as often as I would like. I do want to record our last few weeks in Germany and remember the awesome friends we have made here, so here is a blog entry with a sneek peek into the past few days.
1. French Baptism

Last Saturday, our dear French friends, Adele and Romain celebrated the baptism of their baby girl, Manon. You may remember that Adele and I first met in German "A1". We have both shed tears of frustration and joy, all because of the incredibly difficult German language! I can´t believe that Manon is already 6 months old. She is a beautiful baby girl and Adele is so in love with her, it´s precious to see. It was fun catching up with Adele and Romain´s family members, who we met at their wedding in France in 2009! I love that we are introduced as "die Amerikaner" and that their French family members smile and nod their head and don´t say much to us if they don´t speak English (a lot of them spoke great English though!) The baptism itself was beautiful. It was all in French so Zev and I did not understand our word and therefore just smiled and nodded our heads, but it WAS a beautiful day and great to say "Auf Wiedersehen" to Adele and Romain who are off to France for a ONE MONTH holiday. We foresee those guys coming to visit us in the States one day....
At "Uferlos at Katherinenlinde" where we had lunch (mny favorite restaurant. I always order the number 413 salad and Zev almost always orders the Jägerschnitzel or the Tellerschnitzel. We both order "Dunkles Bier" which is so dark it looks black but is oh so creamy and yummy!)
Zev inside the French/ German church. It´s all "Greek" to him ;-)))

2. The "local" festival (across the street!)

Also on Saturday, after Manon´s baptism, we went to the local "Wäldenbronn Music Club" festival which takes place in the field across our house each year. It is such a fun event and it was cool to have "oompa loompa" (ie: traditional German) music playing right outside our front yard. It was all fun and games except for the fact that last week was also my finals week at uni and I really had no other place on Saturday or Sunday to study (EVERYTHING is closed here on Sundays!) Thankfully I was able to study with Zev´s extra-strength shooting ear muffs on and everything turned out fine. Our next door neighbor (who happens to be our landlord as well) was singing with his singing club on Saturday, so we came out to support him and have dinner.
3. The "best" way to end the study year.
Last Thursday was my last exam as part of my Masters of Laws degree. It has been a hard degree to complete, because I had to research and write a thesis in German, but it was probably my most rewarding degree and I learnt SO MUCH. In case you´re interested, I wrote my thesis comparing the approaches to applying Juvenile Criminal Law between Germany and the US. The approaches vary vastly. Juveniles between 14 and 18 are ALWAYS adjudicated before a juvenile court, pursuant to the Juvenile Law in all of Germany (they do not have separate laws for each of the 16 "states" or "Bundesländer"). Also, 18 to 21 year olds also come under juvenile law for crimes, if it can be proven that their crimes were juvenile in nature or they committed a "typically" juvenile crime. (Think graffiti, joy riding but also breaking into cars and stealing a CD player or breaking a window intentionally). The German juvenile law affords a much wider range of sanctions that focus on making the juvenile personally pay for their damages and in most cases apologize to the victime and even spend some time in jail as a "short sharp shock". Although in the US we tend to "treat" juveniles as adults under the law a lot earlier than the German system does, the fact is that the crime rate is significantly lower here in Germany and the incarceration rate is much lower in Germany; they have "only" 150 per 100,000 people in prison as opposed to 750 per 100,000 in the US. I learnt some excellent lessons on how we can improve our juvenile law system in the States. My dream is to eventually teach criminal law at a law school. I have heard that it is hard to get a teaching professor´s job but right now I am praying to see if that´s where God wants me to go. So (before my long digression there), I wanted to mention that after my last exam, my dear German friends, Laura, Philipp and Marco, who I met in Kriminologie I last year, were waiting outside the exam room with a bottle of champagne and a present. They totally surprised me and were so sweet to be there to celebrate with me. They gave me one of the BEST presents ever; a handmade calendar with pictures of them in different parts of historic Tübingen and holding up signs with typically "Schäbisch" sayings. It was so sweet. I loved it. Here are some pics.

Zev is finishing up his last few weeks at work and is working hard till the end. I am so proud of him.
Hope you have a great week!
Love Zev and Fi xo

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

10th military move

This move marks the 10th military move for Zev and the 5th one for me with Zev. Together we have moved across 3 continents in the span of 7 plus years! Luckily, this move is turning out to be very stress-free and sort of fun. Zev and I went for a bike ride last night to the top of the hill behind our house and just admired the beautiful view. We will miss this place and miss living in Europe so much.
The German movers are so efficient and so professional. They seem to be a lot more careful in packing our stuff than any of our previous moves. And they move fast. They arrived today and are almost done packing our house! We have hardly had to lift a finger; just with getting some small things ready and itemising what we want to keep behind. It sure is nice having Zev at home this week! I am studying upstairs while he is on his computer next to me. I am unbelievably cool, calm and collected about these final exams even though there is so much going on this week! I attribute it to Zev and I remaining cool about the move and of course...God!
The Army will loan us some furniture to live on until the end of the month when we move on base to the hotel where we will stay until we fly out. This is exciting!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

EZ Lauf Number 3!!

Zev ran in "our" third Esslingen Zeitung "EZ Lauf" today. I say "our" because he wasn't able to run it last year because of an injury (so I ran it with Gena) and I wasn't able to run it this year because of an injury (so he ran it by himself) and the first year we ran it together. In total we have participated in the EZ Lauf 3 times! It is fun to recognize some familiar "local" faces like our neighbor's son.
It was so cool to watch him and take pictures. I am so proud of my man. I really believe that he is the fittest I have ever seen him; he looks in tip top shape and finished the 10km hilly race along cobblestones and jostling people in record time.
He did pretty good for an old guy (Zev told me to write that: he actually did very well for an "any age guy.")
Happy 4th of July weekend to our American family!
Zev and Fi xo