Sunday, December 28

Christmas in Germany

I wrote the following Christmas afternoon, but since only one of us can be online at a time, I never got around to posting until now. Sorry!
Christmas 2008
(Click on the album above to view the pictures.)
We’ve just had a wonderful Christmas morning and we’re loving all the church bells ringing yesterday and today here in Vaihingen (area of Stuttgart)!

This week has been 100x better than last week’s relocation! We moved into a long stay hotel room with a kitchenette, made new friends at church and got invited over for meals, visited a medieval Christmas market in Esslingen, and found an apartment to move into in January! We’ve also started to get our bearings, thank goodness! Ryan is amazing when it comes to driving around the city. I’ve always been grateful for his fabulous ability to remember how to get places he’s been to only once before!

Sunday morning we went to our new ward, except it was a combined sacrament meeting with the German speaking ward here. Church was only 1 ½ hours for the program which was completely bilingual with translators. The program was primarily music which is always nice. My favorite was the trombone quartet that played a few selections! The first person I met invited us to lunch after church with another new couple to the ward. What fun! Darla and Dan Jones with their six children were great hosts feeding us a proper roast and mashed potatoes meal which was so delicious to us hotel dwellers!

To help us meet our encroaching housing deadline, our realtor wanted to show us a couple places that afternoon. The Jones offered to watch the boys while we went and looked at the places, isn’t that the best?! First we looked at an old 1899 home that was so interesting, but way to big for our needs. It had four levels, three with their own kitchens! The old cellar and attics were something to behold!

Next we looked at a 3 bdrm/2bath ground level apartment in a quiet cul de sac whose scenic backyard and view just couldn’t be beat! There is literally a big hill beyond our backyard where shepherds and their sheep wander! There isn’t much in the housing inventory right now because the US African Command moved to Stuttgart recently and of course, it’s the holidays. After seeing a great townhome style duplex, we decided the quiet apartment with the backyard/view was for us! I’ll totally have to switch d├ęcor styles from our dark wood colonial to light wood modern European. Wish me luck, this is not my forte!

We spent Christmas Eve with the Jones and their guests. The Birds with their teenage daughter and son are from the DC Maryland area and actually live in the village we’ll be moving to. Sister Bird shared lots of inside info on our village, but my favorite was that the village women hold a once a week free German conversation class where kids are welcome. You learn German, meet the ladies in the village and find out all sorts of important local stuff just by association. HURRAY!!!

Another couple, Kaarin and Karsten, moved here from Springfield VA a week before us and are a lot of fun! Kaarin had actually been the Jones’ girls YW president in VA before the family moved to Botswana. They love to play board games and even gave us the German anniversary edition of Settlers of Catan for Christmas! The board is actually a map of Germany with game pieces that are replicas of German monuments and structures! We may get together with them later today to try it out.

I can’t remember the name of the other gentleman we met. He’s got seven kids back home in Colorado and his 6 month assignment ends in late January. He was well loved by the Jones’ two younger kids that used him as their personal jungle gym. All the kids acted out the Nativity as Brother Jones narrated. It was a fun evening of good food and gracious new friends!

Once we got home, we got the kids ready for bed so Santa could come. I love reading well illustrated versions of Claude Moore’s “Twas the night before Christmas” poem. We also read a children’s illustrated nativity story. Easton helped Ryan put out cookies and milk for Santa and we waited for what seemed like forever for the boys to be snoring zzzz’s. Here’s some pictures from our morning’s festivities, complete with the tree we made as a family after searching in vain for a small real tree in town.

McKay has discovered he absolutely loves showers. Not for the getting clean part, but the lying down with hot water pouring down on him while he just chills out notoriously sucking his thumb. Out of the shower, McKay rarely takes his new headlamp off and is trying to patiently wait his turn for video games. Easton’s wish came true – he got the Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Star Wars Xbox games for Christmas. I’m not a gamer in any shape or form, but Easton is obsessed and seems to figure out the games pretty quickly. He even bypassed cinnamon rolls for breakfast but did take us up on the bacon and OJ.

Ryan and I are trying to pace ourselves on the See’s and Hawaiian chocolate macadamia nuts, but truth be told, I am missing Ryan’s choc/caramel/roasted almond turtles and apple pie!!!

We hope you enjoyed a peaceful Merry Christmas with those you love!