Monday, December 15, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It was great! I ran with two of Aaron's female colleagues and we passed through several villages and by farm houses where we could see Christmas lights twinkling on the trees or in windows. We even passed by a bus stop shelter that was all decorated with garland. Inside, three old men were sitting together talking and drinking spiced wine! If only I'd had a way to capture that image... I got to practice some German and spend some time with some potential friends. And I completed one of the longest runs I've ever done!
We are looking forward to joining the running club on a regular basis starting in January. It will be a great way to exercise and socialize, and we will be training for the Coast-to-Coast race in June. Atec will have two teams in a relay race from the North Sea to the Baltic Sea. We can't wait!
Monday, December 8, 2008
I got out all the measuring cups and spoons, set out the ingredients and hauled the transformer over to the mixer. I plugged it in and turned it on--- and nothing happened. I unplugged it all, replugged it - still nothing. Okay. Don't worry. Maybe something is wrong with the outlet. Tried a different one- nothing. I started to panic and called for Aaron. He tried the transformer with a different appliance and it worked fine. Really panicking! My mixer can't be broken! I love this thing. It's expensive. Who can repair it in Germany? It's too heavy to pack in my suitcase to get repaired in the U.S. Meanwhile, Aaron suggested trying an extension cord. I scoffed. "Why would that work if the mixer is broken? But how can the mixer be broken? Nothing happened to it! I've never plugged it in without the transformer and...." Aaron left and got a big long orange extension cord, and voila! The mixer worked perfectly! Aaron says that's why he's the boy. He does not panic. He just analyzes the problem and deduces a solution. I might have figured it out on my own... eventually!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
As we approached the Weihnachtsmarkt, we heard not Christmas carols but really awful children's music from an odd trio with a cat puppet. Nothing like seeing a 50-year-old woman in pigtails playing bass guitar and singing off-key to a dozen preschoolers to get you in the holiday spirit! What? Is this Christmas in Germany?
We wandered over to the area of wooden huts and bought two mugs of punsch- in styrofoam cups. Not an inspiring souvenir. The only foods for sale were hamburgers and french fries. Seriously. And there was not a single craft or holiday item for sale. Not that I miss the insane commercialism, but my people want cool German Christmas presents, right?
Aaron and I looked at each other over our empty styrofoam cups and decided we'd seen all we needed to see. As we started to walk home, the "cat trio" started a countdown and we got to see the lighting of the lovely big Christmas tree- the best part of Soerup's holiday market!
We went home and watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, which never fails to kick off our holiday season right! :)
Friday, November 28, 2008
But we went for groceries on Wednesday evening and there he was, a big Tom Turkey in the freezer case! We could not resist. Aaron had an extra vacation day and decided to use it today, Friday. So this morning we found ourselves cooking up a storm- turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green beans and apple pie! Thanksgiving came a day late to us in Soerup, Germany, but it came. The potatoes were lumpy, the stuffing was dry, the gravy was soupy but it all tasted great!
We sat and lingered over the meal, reminiscing about past holidays and funny family moments. We reflected on the many things we are thankful for this year. We are so grateful for the loving family and friends we have- absence really does make the heart grow fonder. We are so glad we have each other to lean on in this grand new adventure. Neither of us could do it alone. And we are thankful for new opportunities and all the doors God has opened to us. It is exciting to think about where this will lead.
So, even though things are business as usual here in Germany the spirit of Thanksgiving is here at our house. Not the same as always but a special day all the same.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
So, we not only started our Advent calendar on Sunday (which is tasting very good, by the way) we also decorated our house! We really laughed as we took the "coat" off our tree to see how smashed and flattened it was. Branches were falling off and it was quite pathetic! But a little wood glue and some bending of branches got it back in shape. So, we are starting to get into the holiday spirit.
Hope you are too!
Monday, November 24, 2008
In my family, Aunt Bev’s turkey cookies have transcended tradition to become legendary. Baked only at Thanksgiving, they are the perfect combination of crisp and chewy, spiced and sweet, and they have a pretty translucent icing. And like anything you can only get once a year, they are a hot commodity. When Aunt Bev knows that the Rileys are gathering for Thanksgiving, she sends the cookies to one house to be shared and enjoyed by all. More than once, we’ve asked her for a cookie "head count" so they can be rationed accordingly.
And now, wonder of wonders, I have turkey cookies here in Germany! They flew overnight from my aunt’s house to my mom’s house, in time to make a bigger shipment of treats she was sending. Aaron and I opened the package at lunchtime today and marveled over our good fortune and kind family members. Now do we keep with tradition and save some until Thursday? Something tells me they won't make it that long!
Thanks, Aunt Bev!
We didn't think we would get a calendar since we will be leaving on Dec. 16 to spend the holidays back home. But where there's a will to eat chocolate, there's always a way to rationalize! We went shopping on Saturday and found this beautiful Lindt calendar with three-dimensional towers that you assemble. How could we resist? It turned out that, starting yesterday, there are 24 days until we fly back to America. So, Advent has begun! Hurray! And Happy Holidays!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
We also have Burger King and Subway if we get the urge. In Berlin and Hamburg, I have seen Starbuck's coffee shops. I'm sure there are other franchises...
Generally, we have been surprised by how many "American" products are available here. M&M's, Pringles potato chips, Doritos, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Snickers bars and most other major candy bars. And the things we've tried have been just like what we know.
There is a Tommy Hilfiger store right in Flensburg. I've seen Wrangler jeans in the department stores. People wear The North Face jackets.
And they know all about U.S. television programs. I watched "Happy Days" dubbed over in German at a friend's house! Ha! We have another friend who is hooked on "24." And of course they see American movies. Many are dubbed over in German and they always use the same voice actor for a particular American actor. So they think Brad Pitt sounds totally different than he really does. Funny!
American (and British) music is played on the radio a lot. The good, the bad, the 1983 ballads! I think I've heard "Africa" by Toto more in the last few months than I did in the last 25 years in the U.S. And it's such a hard song to get out of your head.
They even import some of our words-e-mail is e-mail, shopping is shopping, computer is computer! It's crazy! And sometimes frustrating!
But one thing they can't duplicate here is all the fantastic friends and family we have in the U.S. We miss you! Looking forward to holiday visits with everyone!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
We headed to the city Friday afternoon and made it by dinner time. On Saturday we explored a lot of Berlin on foot. There is a huge park in the center and they live just at the edge of it. It was lovely to see such open space in the midst of a metropolis. We came out the other side near the Reichstag- Parliament building, where we got to witness a protest march regarding unemployment benefits. Then we walked through Brandenburg Gate, which stands at the former East-West border. It was packed with tourists but still felt symbolic and important. In most places we could not tell whether we were in former East Berlin or West Berlin. There are some remnants of the Wall, and in ths photo Adrienne, Ilarion and I are standing in front of a section.
The four of us talked and talked about our experiences of living in this country and it was great to share it with others who are going through the same things. Between the four of us, our German got us around without any problems until we encountered a waitress who didn't speak it! She was French, and thankfully could speak some English. You just never know! It was refreshing for Aaron and I to be in a city, where foreigners are not so uncommon and you hear people speaking many different languages on the streets. Here in Soerup we sometimes feel a bit isolated being the only Americans in town.
We had a great time and realize how much there is to see in Berlin! I'm sure we'll be back to take in some of the many museums and cultural offerings, and visit our friends again!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Kinder Eggs are the most popular candy among children here, with very good reason. A foil-wrapped chocolate egg shell that contains a toy surprise inside. Often a very good toy! I cannot imagine why these are not available in the U.S.
Naturally, Aaron and I are hooked. What do you mean we're too old for toys? Now that there is a possibility of getting a Smurf I absolutely can't resist the thrill of the hunt. (Okay, well, there's also the thrill of delicious milk chocolate melting on my tongue...) The odds of getting a Smurf were 1 in 7 and we had no luck. So, when we found these 6-packs at the store last night with 2 Smurfs guaranteed we were so excited! So far we've found one Smurf out of the four eggs we opened! The anticipation is killing me. It feels just like Christmas, and like my Smurf-themed seventh birthday party!
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
The voting lines were so long in some places. And I heard stories of people being friendly- sharing umbrellas in the rain, making coffee runs, directing strangers to free parking spots! I love it! It really makes me wish I had been there.
Like him or not, Barack Obama has inspired a lot of people to believe again in the future of this country. A lot of responsibility now rests on his shoulders. But I think that the real possibilities for the United States rest with each one of us. If we can all just share our umbrellas, think what might happen!
Friday, October 31, 2008
It's the time of year when we all start thinking about soup. The leaves are falling, the air is brisk, we come inside with cold noses and cold hands. Nothing sounds better than pulling up to the table for a bowl of fragrant steamy soup and a thick slice of fresh bread! Mmmm!
So, I've been pulling out my recipes and headed to the store this morning. Just one problem- I couldn't find broth! Soups have to start with that, there's just no way around it. As I was strolling past the freezer section, I happened to notice a sign that said soup chickens. I thought, "Well, they say there's no true substitute for real broth and since I can't find the canned stuff I might as well go for it. How hard can it be?"
I seem to have momentarily forgotten how much I hate handling raw meat, especially when it is still basically shaped like the animal it once was. So I got her home (I have now read that soup chickens are "spent breeders" and I can't help thinking of it as she) and thawed her out in the microwave. Then I rinsed her in the sink and started crying! I know it sounds totally ridiculous, and I don't know if I was crying for her, having spent her life laying eggs and then ending up in a soup pot, or for myself because it was right then that I realized that I would not only have to get this thing into the pot to cook but also get it out again, take its skin off and cut all the meat off the bones. Just thinking of it is giving me goose bumps, or is it chicken skin?!?
But I feel like I have to complete the task that I started, even if Aaron does get home in time to do the dirty work. I am less certain of whether I'll be able to eat anything that comes from this endeavor!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Remember back in the summer when I was complaining about the weather? Well, it hasn't changed much! Only now, it seems seasonally appropriate and maybe even better than what some of you are experiencing in the Upper Midwest.
Although we did have some "hot" days, July and August were more notable for the rain and 63-degree high temps. And when my parents came from Illinois in mid-September they suffered from the "It's still hot here, it surely can't be that cold there" packing error, one that we've all committed at some point. It was still in the 80s at home but in the 50s here and their layering was a bit on the light side. Now I am hearing about first frosts and first snow flurries in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois. We still haven't had frost, or a temperature below the freezing point. Just yesterday, Aaron's boss asked him how he was doing with the cold weather and promised that it wouldn't get much colder- it was about 35 degrees!
So, I'm really excited by the prospect of a winter without mounds of snow, frozen eyelashes and bitter cold that steals your breath away! We'll see if that makes up for the lack of a real summer. If not, well, you just might see us back next summer to soak up some tropical summer sunshine on the shores of Lake Michigan! Of course, I hear the coast of Spain has some lovely beaches...
Monday, October 27, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I have seen a lot of things in Germany that make sense. Things that make me say, "Huh? I wonder why no one does this in the U.S."
This, however, is not one of them! I have noticed that people here seem a little wimpy about cold weather. But seriously- shoulder warmers? Elbow warmers? Let me give you a tip that we use back in the old country- just put on another shirt!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
And I know you do too. So, whatever you believe in, get out there and let your voice be heard! The best political bumper sticker I've seen says, "If you didn't vote, don't complain!"
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thursday, October 9, 2008
My parents and I spent an afternoon in Schleswig when they were here. There was a bakery on every corner. We chose a self-serve one (because why speak German to someone if you don't have to?) and loaded up a tray with various treats- pretzels with and without cheese, pastries with nuts, and even a plain white roll with a giant chocolate-covered marshmallow sandwiched in the middle. I couldn't resist. It was just so odd. It turned out to be the best thing I ate there. Which was good and bad, since I decided to start a quest for the best hot pretzel in Germany. I think I live in the wrong end of the country for this, though.
Anyway, the bakery must have been around the corner from the high school because teenagers started pouring in. We sat near the cash register and we couldn't believe that these kids could eat two or three rolls and call it "lunch." Student after student passed by with trays of carbs only. I don't think they have ever heard of Doctor Atkins over here. Or maybe he came over and tried to sell his diets and they just threw him out!
Aaron and I occasionally have the conversation about our favorite food/beverage item. "If you could choose only one treat, what would it be?" "Which food would you refuse to give up?" The tops choices are always cheese, coffee, chocolate or beer. We discussed this recently with our new friend Jan and you know what his answer was: "Oh, bread of course!" We looked at each other is disbelief. It's never even been a contender.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Although we did see a Holiday Inn Express in Baden-Baden, we were happy that it was an anomaly! If our experiences are any indication, small family-run businesses are thriving in Germany. At both hotels, we worked directly with the people who owned it, and in both cases one of the owners was also the chef in the hotel restaurant.
In Cochem, at Zur Schoenen Aussicht, roughly "With a Lovely View," a husband and wife greeted us by name when we arrived. When was the last time you checked into a hotel and someone said, "Oh you must be...! We've been expecting you." She led us up the narrow old staircase to our third-floor rooms. The doors had counted cross-stitch decor with the room number and bunches of grapes and I would have bet anything that she made them. And our rooms did have lovely views looking out at the river!
The next morning when we went down for breakfast, the resident dog was hanging out in the dining room. He was clearly a veteran, as he barely noticed our comings and goings. I have noticed that dogs here have many more freedoms than in the U.S.- it is common to see them in restaurants and shopping centers. And they are astonishingly well-behaved! Perhaps they know that bad dogs wait in cars or on sidewalks.
Breakfast was different- an assortment of sliced deli meats and cheeses, with a huge basket of bread and rolls. It think we would call this lunch! But, they also had Nutella, marmalade (homemade by the lady of the house), muesli, and yogurt. Whatever you call it, it was tasty and a good start to our days.
In Baden-Baden we stayed in Rathausgloeckel, Town Hall Bells- located right next to the town hall, of course. It is a 16th century building and they used to bring prisoners there for their last meals. We saw the iron rings where they chained them up to eat! Luckily for us, we got to eat dinner in the dining room instead and it was one of the best meals we ate (though by no means did we suffer through our other meals)! Two men owned this hotel, which has just nine rooms in addition to its well-known restaurant.
Beds are different in Europe too! Aaron and I don't experience this at home since we brought our bed with us. They are almost always platform beds, so no box springs and they tend to be low. For bedding, there is a fitted sheet but no top sheet. Each side of the bed has its own down comforter in a duvet cover and a big square down pillow. That's it! Harder to snuggle up with your honey under the covers but much simpler to make the bed in the morning- just fold up your comforter.
Staying in these places was so different from staying in a standard American-style hotel. The hosts knew who you were and you had the feeling that they would help you however they could. They served fresh-cooked meals and were proud of their businesses, their livelihoods. It was refreshing and gave us a better understanding of the areas that we visited.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
We arrived at Burg Eltz after driving up out of the river valley, across farmers' fields and into a forest. There we parked the car and set out on foot down a winding wooded path. When we caught our first glimpse of the castle, we were looking down at it! There was just a bit of cloud and mist and Mom commented that it didn't look real, more like a miniature, a picture in a story book. It is nestled into the midst of a forest, with the little Eltz River curving around it on three sides. And even though it seemed hidden away, it was quite grand with its many turrets pointing up to the sky.
What struck me as most amazing was the history of the castle. They think it may have been built as early as the 12th century, with additions added over the course of 500 years of changing family needs. It has always been owned by the Eltz family- 33 generations and 850 years! For several hundred years, a group of joint heirs shared the castle, each building his own "house." In the inner courtyard you can see the three separate entrances and the differences in the architecture of each. It is also unique in the area because it was never destroyed. Almost all castles in the Mosel and Rhine regions were burned by French troops in a land war in 1689, but Burg Eltz survived because of good family connections. There are 100 rooms in the castle and we saw just a few but they have been preserved to reflect the way of life in the early Middle Ages.
Unlike Burg Eltz, Reichsburg castle in Cochem stands proudly above the town. You can't miss it! We walked up through the narrow streets, past Catholic alters and vineyards. The foggy morning leant a bit of mysticism to our journey. We were the only four people for the first tour so our guide spoke English (we were prepared to read along in an English pamphlet while being guided in German), a stroke of good luck! Cochem castle has an ancient and interesting history dating back to the 1100s. It passed through many hands in the political chess games of mideval Europe until it succumbed to the same French troops that spared Burg Eltz. Only a single turret survived and was dubbed "the witch's tower." The castle was rebuilt in the 1870s by a wealthy Berliner; it was en vogue at the time for wealthy people to restore castles for their summer homes. This was the Romantic period so everything is ornate and "over the top!" There are rich furnishings, suits of armor in the living room, balconies overlooking the river... not at all accurate to it's original form. But lovely and interesting none the less!
I've posted more pictures of our trip at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37438151@N00/
If you are really interested in these castles, check out their websites:
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
The Flensburg Fjord separates Germany from Denmark so we were able to see the coastlines of two countries as we sailed. It was interesting to watch 21st century kiteboarders skimming across the water against a backdrop of 18th century wooden windmills!
Afterwards, we ate fisch broetchen (sandwiches on fresh mini-baguettes) at the marina restaurant. This is a regional specialty and you can get them with Matjes (salted) herring, Bismarck (pickled) herring, tiny shrimp from the North Sea, or fried fish. Of course, our friends insisted that we try all types! Not bad- better than smoked eel!
It was a boost to our spirits to be out in the wind and water! We came to Germany because we wanted to experience a different way of living and try new things. But some days at home feel mundane and other days we are overwhelmed with the magnitude of this life change, frustrated by the effort required to accomplish the most basic tasks in a different culture and language. So these days when our experiences transcend all of that are truly a breath of fresh air to revive us, and we feel blessed!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
How many of you recall your English grammar lessons from elementary school? Direct and indirect objects, predicate nouns, adverbial prepositions, relative pronouns- starting to ring a bell? No, me neither! So, we had to have a book of English grammar because if you don't know the rules of your own language you're hopeless for learning a second language!
Then, we started to tackle verb conjugations. In English this is not so complicated as in many other languages. There is a different form of a verb for "I" "you" "he/she/it" "we" "they" and the plural form of "you" (which we don't have but use "you guys," or "y'all.") And that is true for every tense of the verb- present , past , perfect , subjunctive, future. So, we needed The Big Yellow Book of German Verbs, featuring 555 fully conjugated verbs with a cross-referenced index of 4,200 verbs (see photo)! Could it possibly get any better than this?
Yes! There's more! We are moving beyond basics, starting to build sentences and asking a lot of questions about sentence structure, use of prepositions, etc. We found that we needed a reference book for German grammar. So, after extensive research on amazon.de, I located Hammer's German Grammar and Usage, 4th Edition. I am waiting for the post man to ring the doorbell any minute to bring this latest treasure, which will bring our total number of books on German language to NINE!
Oh, and don't be fooled by the picture! I hardly ever look so cheerful when I'm studying!
Monday, September 1, 2008
I had been here for about a week when I decided I should tackle the laundry. Aaron was at work and I thought, "How hard can it be to get this thing going?" It is a style that is new to me- front-loading with a separate compartment for soap. Actually, the soap drawer has three different compartments- labeled with symbols which are decoded (in German) in the manual. I knew I wouldn't get far with that so I poured the detergent in the spot that had a little soap bubble on it- perfect! Hit "Start" and an hour later I have clean clothes. I went on like this for five or six weeks feeling quite pleased with myself for figuring this out without reading the instructions first!
One day I walked in while the machine was on its final spin. "Hmm, looks a bit soapy," I thought but carried on without further thought. A few days later, after I had finished all the week's laundry I decided to try reading the manual since I had now acquired a small German vocabulary. With the help of my pocket translator and my German/English dictionary I deciphered the symbols. It turns out I had been adding the detergent where the liquid fabric softener is supposed to go! I was so embarassed that I didn't think I could tell anyone, but in the end I couldn't resist. Aaron got such a good laugh. He now knows why he starts to "suds up" when he's running! Ha!
But he has had his fair share of mishaps too. Since our freezer is too small to hold a frozen pizza, our grocery shopping day corresponds with "Pizza Night." It was Aaron's turn to choose and he had his mouth set for a sausage pizza. He picked it out, threw it in the cart and off we went. At home, while it was baking it smelled... different. When it came out, he said "I think something is wrong." "It smells like fish," I agreed. A photo of TUNA pizza on the packaging looks quite like sausage pizza! As we later learned, tuna is a common topping and sausage as we know it is virtually nonexistent in Germany. Once you got over the fact that it was fish, it wasn't so bad but Aaron could not be assuaged!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I am less enchanted now because I think I know the secret to their success- rain. Almost every day- sometimes all day, sometimes several brief showers. And cool temperatures. I may be biased but it seems that the average daily temp has been 65 degrees. Do keep in mind that I have been here through July and August- summer months! Hot, dry months, right?
At first people were saying that this weather was normal, but now even the natives are restless. The summer has been cooler and wetter than normal. It’s creating a problem for the farmers who can’t harvest their oats and wheat. It is no fun for all the tourists who come to north Germany’s coastlines for summer holidays on the beach. And it’s not easy for me, trying to dry my clothes on the line, looking at the sky twenty times a day trying to outmaneuver the rain clouds!
So, for better or worse, rain and cool summer weather seem to be the keys to lovely and colorful gardens. When it stops raining I’ll have to head out and take more pictures for you!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I haven’t planted a single flower!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
When we lived in Kalamazoo we drove a Volkswagen Jetta - a German made automobile. In Germany, we drive a Ford Focus. I know, hee hee, laugh it up. I’ll have you know, our Ford Focus was made in Düsseldorf, Germany. Here are a few more interesting facts about our new automobile:
- "6.3 L/100” or 6.3 liters of diesel fuel per 100 kilometers or 38 miles per gallon.
- It will comfortably fit 2 expatriates, 3 visitors and lots of luggage.
- It can haul 1 dining table, 2 chairs, 2 shelving units, 1 shower rod, 4 bathroom light fixtures, 1 kitchen light fixture, 4 closet organizers, 2 sets of curtains and 4 passengers home from IKEA. (See photo).
- It has a “navi” (GPS navigation system) for all of Europe. The navi lady speaks both German and English fluently.
- It is equipped with fog lamps and heated seats, but not cruise control.
- It has manual transmission, as most cars in Germany have. This is still quite notable to Jackie…
- It has front wheel drive and special tires for the winter.
- The driver and passenger have power windows, but people in back have to crank the old fashioned way.
- It has a plug for your MP3 player.
- The stereo controls are on the steering wheel.
- It has a turbo engine, plenty fast on the autobahn where there is no speed limit.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
There must have been a dozen candy stands! That's one (bright pink) just behind us in the photo. They were filled with chocolates, licorice of many flavors, nuts, gummies, etc. There were also giant heart-shaped cookies elaborately decorated with icing, with strings so you could wear them around your neck. I didn't bother getting one, as I think they were gingerbread cookies (not my favorite). Instead, we tried apfeltasche, which is the same concept as a McDonald's apple pie but tastes ten times better.
We rode the ferris wheel and that gave us a neat view of the surrounding area. Rolling fields and pastures as far as the eye could see, dotted with eighteenth-century church steeples and ultra-modern wind turbines. We also rode something whose name translates to Dream of Love! It was just one of those mini-roller coasters that go in a circle- fast, slow, backwards and all the while blaring music by Bon Jovi and Backstreet Boys. We got laughing so hard at our friend Maren, who is easily excitable and screamed the whole time, that we had tears getting ripped out of the corners of our eyes! Such fun!
There were helium balloons and stuffed animals. Spongebob Squarepants is very popular. You probably didn't know that he and his friends speak fluent German! They do- I've seen them on TV! Bob the Builder is also popular, but people seem to know all the pop culture cartoon characters from America.
Some of the carnival rides seemed really outdated- one for kids had the Smurfs painted on it! Another ride had this picture of Uncle Sam with the sign that reads,"I want you!" Huh? Surely, we are not recruiting for our armed forces in Germany! Aaron and I have so many good laughs over stuff like that. I'm sure our friends think we have strange senses of humor, but then again, with our mangled German they get plenty of chances to laugh when we don't know what's funny!