Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Trash

Yes, this post is about trash.

My trash. Literally.

When we moved to Germany, we were able to bring our trash from our house to the post and dump it there. We didn't need to use the German system, though it was available to us. That ended last June, and we've been disposing of our trash on the German economy since then.

It's crazy. I'm trying not to allow the trash-sorting to take over my life...but it's hard!

Now to be completely fair, where we live in Germany is more strict on trash disposal than lots of other German cities. So we are in the minority when we consider what we have to do to throw our trash away. But so it is. And now, to give you an idea:  
This is the size of our trash can. It's picked up once every OTHER week.

Bins ready for pick up


 
Please notice three things about the above pictures before I go on. 1: the trash can is slightly smaller than my almost 5 yr old. It holds 120 liters of trash. (That equals almost 32 gallons). 2, it's picked up ONE time every OTHER week. (2 times a month). 3, all the bins are lined up uniformly and nicely on trash day. It's a thing of beauty, don't you think?
 
The sorting (which I have to store in my garage)
 

 
Magnetic cans (all canned goods)
 
 
Metals (non-magnetic) such as Pringles cans, granola bar wrappers, coke cans, chip bags, etc.)
 
 
I didn't take pictures of all the other sorting, but it includes separate containers for plastic wrappers, plastic bottles (less than 5 liters and one for over 5 liters); drink cartons (large ones like oj cartons, boxed milk, etc); newspapers, mail, unwanted paper items, pizza boxes; and then there are the miscellaneous items (which I'll mention later).
 

Everything piled up in my car
 
So I pile everything up in my car (after it's multiplied so much that it threatens to overflow my garage) and drive down to the Wertstoffhof. (Try saying that five times fast.) This is our local "recycling center." A dumpster for almost everything! 
 
 

The closest dumpster is for paper (not to include cardboard).
 

 
 

These are for plastic bags (not plastic wrappers).




Drink cartons (oj cartons, milk, juice, etc)

Not just glass--spaces for each color!


Non-magnetic metals (complete with magnet to test your item and see if it qualifies)




Orange: magnetic, right next to the brown "non-magnetic" metals bin
 

Plastic wrapping and packaging
 Those are the main dumpsters I use. There are other places for regular trash--for example, if your small can isn't cutting it, you can bring an additional bag of trash for only 7.50E per 120 liter bag ($10.40 for 32 gallons of trash). Also, you can drop off electronic items that don't work (like our broken toaster oven, extension cord, etc), light bulbs (in their own container), cork from wine bottles, CDs, and batteries. Again, each of these has their own special container. If you have to get rid of larger items (like a mattress or crib pieces), you can bring them here and they will take them from you. Last year you had only a few coupons to use for larger items and then you needed to pay to drop them off, but this year you can bring these items at no extra charge. Also, the city also has a compost pick up once a month, if you put out that can. Thankfully, I don't...I can't imagine the smell of composted items in a can for a month!! Ugh!

 
Needless to say, this was a HUGE adjustment to my life. Americans SO take for granted the ability to toss something in the trash can and not think about it again!! I confess I am anxious to get back to the States where trash-sorting won't take over my kitchen. Ahh, the luxury to just throw something in the kitchen trash and not think about how it needs to be sorted!! But I also enjoy a great sense of accomplishment in conquering our trash heap. I'm even proud to say that we do fine with our 120 liter bin that we put out only twice a month. This includes some of our valuable trash space being taken up by diapers!
 
Now if you'll excuse me...I have to take out the trash.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Miranda: 18 months

Happy 18 month birthday, Miranda Joy! 
 
 
God brought Miranda into the world with less than 2 hours of labor and we've been trying to keep up since. :) What fun it is to celebrate such a sweetie pie. Miranda is a joyful, fun, excited and explorative baby--she hardly ever slows down! A few months ago we were calling her Miss Chevious because of all the "trouble" she kept getting in to, but now she's settled down and we're so thankful. She really wants to keep up with her big sisters, and they just love her to pieces.
 
 

Mom and the three girls
 
 
As an 18 month old, Miranda loves to take walks, be outside, see animals, read books, eat carbs, learn new words, play hide and seek, talk to Daddy on the phone, and take baths. We tried signing with her starting at 5 months, but I finally gave it up at one year. She just wasn't doing it. Nowadays, however, she does one sign--bath. She loves her bath and knows the word like a dog knows the word "walk"--so don't say it around her unless she's getting one! She splashes and plays and revels in the big tub.


Eating is one of her favorite things, and she'd do it all day long if l let her. Her favorite foods include bread, crackers, anything sweet, and fruit. Sometimes she'll eat lunchmeat and cheese and maybe a pepper strip or two, but she loves her carbs. She even knows the sound of a bakery bag being opened and knows which bag contains her favorite German bretzel. She knows the sound of her snack cup being filled from a room away, and it always brings her running. She has a lot of words, and she can say "pssss" (for please) repetitively and even unprompted.

Wherever she goes, she conquers. :) The volunteers in the church nursery love her (she never cries, that's why) and the kids at the bus stop dote on her. Here's one of her favorites--Caleb. He does such a good job watching out for her and helping her stay out of trouble.

Miranda also loves books. You can ask her to go get a book and she'll run to her basket and bring you back one (or five). She knows the animals and their sounds (ducks, pigs, dogs, cows, sheep) and she squirms with anticipation when you pull her on to your lap to read. Her favorite books are about animals because she is enthralled, completely entranced, with animals. She will plant her little feet and stop to watch a dog go by. She loves walking out to see the sheep and she baaaas at them from 50 feet away. She screeches with excitement when she sees a bird out the window when we sit and eat. It's adorable to see her so excited about them.
Fitting into a dress from Great Gramie that her sisters wore!

 She will also bring you her shoes and go stand by the door until you open it. She cries when it's time to go inside because she loves to romp and explore. As you can see from the picture below, she's roughly the size of our trash can (I'm working on a trash post soon, so stay tuned). She's always on the go and always ready to see what's coming up next. We are so
 
 
We are so incredibly blessed to have you in our family, sweet baby! Your mommy, daddy, and big sisters thank God for you every day.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A few differences

If you've been following our blog for a while, you'll realize I took a hiatus. I guess the 300th post threw me! But we're nearing the end of our German adventure, and I wanted to make sure I got this post in before we leave.

There are a few differences between the German and American cultures.
Yes.
There are.
I know you're totally shocked--how can they be that different? Well, my friend, let me tell you. Oh, and my caveat--this list is by no means exhaustive. These are the differences noticed by this one American. Anyone else is welcome to chime in on what I missed!

Starting off easy: An Asian pear from China. (Sorry for the blurry image.) Yes, this Asian pear clearly states that it's from China (IN ENGLISH). I don't think we see many of those in the US.






This is always good for a chuckle: A street sign in Herrenberg, a town about 20 min south of us.
 
 
 
 
Ok, any guesses what this is? The silver canister on the counter in McDonalds? No? It's a trash can. Yes. It is. You find these everywhere (usually for creamer trash, sugar packets, straws). The funny thing is these cans are average size in Germany--this is a country that does NOT use big trash cans.
 
 
Now they may have this in the States by now--someone might need to fill me in. But in case you can't read the package, it says "Baby Art: Belly Kit." Yes, even you can take a plaster-of-paris mold of your pregnant belly and boobs, to keep indefinitely. Wow.
 
 
This was taken at our local grocery store. Now I realize people may have a marzipan fettish in the States, but it's nothing like here. You can get marzipan in almost any shape, and here you have a cornucopia of fruit and veggie shapes from which to choose.


This is a fun one: In the town where we live, there is a major Mercedes/Daimler plant. Cars roll off the line constantly, and you can even go to the factory floor to pick up your brand-spanking new Mercedes. Pretty cool! Since the make them here, there are always these black rubber-covered cars driving around, presumably testing new gadgets and upgrades. (No I didn't get in an accident taking this picture...but yes, I am driving.) And as a side note, ALL the lane lines in Europe are white. There are no yellow lines to differentiate between different directions of travel. Yes, that took a while to get used to!

 
This one's a little eaiser to see the rubber covers to make it "incognito."
 
This one is just fun. If garlic sauce is made from garlic, and fish sauce is made from fish, what is American Sauce made from? Just a thought.
 
 
Think anyone can come from the States and drive in Germany? Ok, one question: What do you do here?
 
Or here? Remember there's a whole line of people behind you...decide quickly (and correctly)!


Seriously one of the most difficult things in Germany is deciphering the elevator. Good luck! Here's a hint: I got on at E and I want to go down one floor. ALWAYS know the floor where you start when you get on a German elevator!

 And finally, leaving my favorite shopping mall. The Stern Center wishes me a gut fahrt. Thank you very much--I would certainly enjoy one.



Thursday, December 26, 2013

300th Post!

 
It's hard to believe this is our 300th post! We started this blog when our oldest was born in 2007, and here we are, 6 years later, still blogging away. Thank you for making this journey with us!!
 
We're a little behind with what's going on with us--and boy, has it been an eventful last few months. (As always, right?) We were looking forward to Thanksgiving in France with some dear friends of ours who just moved to Germany. They live about 2 hours north of us, so we planned to meet near Strasbourg to celebrate Thanksgiving and see a few Christmas markets together, along with spending some very anticipated time together.
 
Unfortunately, two days before we were to leave, Ellie came down with a fever. While this was not that concerning (she has had many fevers in her short 4 yrs) what became terrifying was the seizure she endured while laying on the couch. I can't begin to recount for you my terror in realizing what was happening to her (I was sitting next to her on the couch when it happened) and my utter inability to do anything to help her. As soon as the seizure subsided, I did the only logical thing I could think to do--I called Jon. He immediately directed me to call 112 (or 911 in the States) so I did. The ambulance came, E came around, very disoriented and not speaking, and off to the hospital she went. Thank the Lord Jon arrived home in time to go with her in the ambulance while I got things ready to meet them there. Thank you to our dear friends who jumped into action to help us--watching Miranda, bringing meals, sending messages on facebook, and of course, praying for us. During the scariest moment of my life, I thank God for His protection on our family and especially on Ellie.
 

Sleeping at the hosptial
 
While the fever lasted only 1 1/2 days, E stayed in the hospital to be watched for any more seizures. She didn't have any (thank the Lord!) and was released Thanksgiving evening. She got to pick where we ate for Thanksgiving (since we had so much to be thankful for!) and her choice? McDonald's.
Hooked up to her EEG
 
 
Feeling better

"Best Sisters Ever" as they call themselves
As you've guessed by now, we had to cancel our plans to meet our friends in France. And while we were disappointed in that, it seemed a small price to pay to know Ellie was healthy and back to her old self. So we celebrated by attending a Christmas market a bit closer to home--at Burg Hohenzollern. It was a cold, clear day, but as it was the last time we'll make it to the castle, we were happy to see it decked out in Christmas finery.




After such an eventful ending to November, December came in much more quietly. Here's Kate and Jon with a project they worked on for Kate's kindergarten class--a Christmas tree decorated with pictures of her family and friends. She presented this to her class and what we love most about it is her choice to put " I Love Jesus" on the trunk. <3 p="">
 
 
Ellie's kindergarten had a fun Adventssingen, where parents were invited to come hear the kids sing and join in the singing too. I don't have many pictures as I was taking video, keeping an eye on Miranda, and trying to sing in German, but it was fun.  

The PTA at Kate's school hosted a Bingo night, and I thought the girls would enjoy going. So I signed us up. Unfortunately, Jon couldn't break away from work to join us, so I enlisted help from our wonderful neighbors. Thanks, guys, for helping me get the girls dinner, keep an eye on them, mark bingo cards, and keep track of all our stuff. Whew!!

Ellie and her "bingo buddy"


Mid-December brought the girls' ballet recital. This was Ellie's first recital, and she was super excited about it. They have attended ballet since the summer, and really enjoy it. (At least I think they do--they don't talk too much about it!) Ms. Helen does a great job with all the kids and is a patient and gentle teacher. We were joined by some of our German friends, and it was fun to bring them with us and introduce them to getting on post. ;)
Kate and Lizzie, the flies


Fly, Ms. Helen, and Cinderella's mouse
 
 
One fly and three mice
 
 
Celebrating a successful recital at the BrauHaus afterwards. Such fun with friends!
 And of course, our littlest one continues to move, grow, and get into mischief. Miranda loves to make messes, follow her sisters around, and climb on the table. Just the other day, I found her trying to climb on the bench where the girls eat. Sheesh! It's hard to keep up with her--seriously, you have to have your eye on her all the time. But she's adorable, sweet, sleeps like a champ, and loves to eat. She's not walking yet, which I'm trying not to stress about, but she zooms around when she crawls.

And here are a few recent shots of Christmas just yesterday! Daddy and the girls about to divide out the presents. Jon and I were thrilled the girls slept until almost 8!
 
 
 
How we kept M pacified (food)
 
The girls with their piles of presents

 
Merry Christmas!! We had a wonderful day together, and look forward to spending time with friends (the same ones we didn't get to see at Thanksgiving) this weekend. We pray you have a wonderful Christmas and take time to be thankful for God's blessings in your life! As I write this, we are all healthy and that enough is something for which to be extremely grateful. Frohe Weihnachten from Deutschland!