How to eat a Kiwi

It’s funny, really. I can’t even begin to explain how many times during a normal day that my last stay in Germany randomly pops up in my mind. I have always been the “story teller.” I have told countless poor souls about my Germany experience- probably at minimum three times each- and I would gladly talk their ears off again given the chance. Weather it be something I learned, experienced, lived, saw, ate or even smelled, my life now is so different than it was during my stay in 2012, yet it is so easily comparable at the same time.

Just yesterday, I was cutting up fresh fruit for a friends bridal shower the next day and I couldn’t help but chuckle at myself half way through. I had carefully carved the watermelon into little hearts while my friend quartered strawberries and got small punch cups ready to be filled with fresh fruit. I was soaked in watermelon juice and the floor was simulating a musical instrument every time I lifted my feet off it from being so sticky when I remembered that I had a few kiwis in the fridge we could use. As I started to cut into them and almost made it an entire hour without talking about my upcoming trip I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that, I actually had to think about how to cut a kiwi.

Growing up, my mom had kiwis in the house quite often. I have always been a fruit and veggie lover so naturally I was just as content having kiwis or grapefruit for breakfast as  I was having typical breakfast meals. I remember my mom cutting the skin off the kiwi, rinsing it off and then eating it. That simple…

Until my stay in Germany. I should note that every morning we had the same breakfast except for Saturdays- when Alex would load us up with bakery treats. During the week, one of my duties was to make fruit salad nightly so it would be ready for Alex when he he went to work, and to make sure there was enough to Eva, myself and the girls upon starting our day. Everyday, I made it the same, apples, pineapple, grapes, maybe some mango, banana, sometimes oranges and almost always- kiwi. Again, cutting the flesh off, washing and dicing. However, one day that all changed when I looked around the corner to see little Emilia eating a kiwi with a spoon. And in that moment I was 100% outsmarted by a 3 year old.

With that, How to eat a kiwi:

1. Take the kiwi out of the fridge and give it a good rinse. I always rinse my fruit because I don’t know about you but I’m always the person squeezing, smelling, touching all my fruit before I buy it so, wash all those hand germs off it.

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2. Cut the kiwi down the middle horizontally. Notice how the kiwi makes two little bowls.

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3. Use a spoon and scoop the kiwi flesh out. The juice stays within the skin making it mess free, cutting board free and painlessly easy to eat.

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4. Enjoy!

How I had missed this genius way of eating a fruit that I had been consuming for most of my life I have no idea but yet again I was subtly reminded of how much I grew as a person in Germany- even if it was just learning the right way to eat a kiwi.

What are your favorite fruits? Have you ever learned something so mind bogglingly simple that you wondered how in the world you hadn’t already known it?

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Recovery

The human body is an amazing thing. The amount of damage and recoil our bodies endure from birth to death is so extensive, yet the human body somehow manages to spring back in time for us to mess it up all over again. Some people, like me, more than others! As some of you know, when I was 16 I was in a terrible car accident that left me with a shattered arm, car and a long road of recovery. After four surgeries, 10 screws, a metal plate, 2 wires, a carpal tunnel release, 2 scar tissue releases and almost three years of physical therapy… My body has sprung back, although with scars both inside and out, and restored itself to an everyday livable state. I did, in fact survive through the pain and recovery. I was released from my doctors at the University of Chicago in 2011. The time between then and now has been minimally painful and I have been quite healthy. That is, until I messed it all up over again! Haha

As I said in my last post, over a week ago I was airlifted to a burn unit in downtown Munich after spilling boiling water all over myself and I promised an update.

If I had a dollar, for every tear I shed and every FaceTime call made home over the last week, I would have enough money to go home and back five times over. It’s a good thing I have been immobile until just yesterday. I probably would have walked to the airport and borded the first plane home.

Medical care here in Europe is a totally different system. The first five days of my stay we spent in the intensive care unit (also known as prison). Visitors were only allowed to be in the room for fifteen minutes, from 4-6 pm, with a max of one per day. Anymore and I was restricted to talking to them through a glass window with a phone. Like I said…. (Prison.) Friday I was transferred to the regular hospital where my 24 hour care came to a screaching halt. I wasn’t monitored. All my IVs were still in but not hooked up. I was in pain, emotional and rock bottom. But then something happened.

I prayed. I have prayed more in this last week than I ever have, and I can say every single one has been answered thus far. I prayed for no infection, the strength to carry on and the patience in recovery. This has, by far been the worst, most painful, and most terrifying experience of my life but ya know what? I made it.

It’s now Tuesday. I have been in the hospital a total of 9 days, and I’m making it. Yesterday, I finally got the clear to get up and try to walk. (OUCH) I actually got to wash and dry my own hair, wear clothes and sit up to eat. Simple things.. But when you can’t do them and lie helpless for a week, they are big things. All my IVs are out and yesterday was my second bandage change (which compared to be first one in which I cried for 6 hours and thus delayed my release from ICU a day). Let me say this again. the human body is an amazing thing Yet again, my body has sprang back into recovery mode. The burns look SO much better than they did only a few short days ago and I’m now on the road to recovery.

Once I’m completely healed, I can say I made it.. But I have some ways to go before I can. But what I can say is, I have almost made it. I didn’t board a plane and don’t have as much of a desire to as I did a few short days ago. I’m happy. I’m getting back to healthy. I can have as many real life hospital visitors as I want and Hopefully, by Thursday, this hospital will no longer be home and I will be released. My birthday is tomorrow and GUESS WHAT?!

Mom arrives in about two hours.

( I’ve only waited forever!)

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I rode in a helicopter

Monday, I got the chance to ride in a helicopter and I have debated weather to share this story with you all or not, but I figure its a part of my journey (a big part at that) and most of you are my Facebook friends or family anyways so here it is.

Monday morning started out like any other. Woke up in the morning with a sinus headache, Sophia was her usual smiley self and still no baby for Eva. Isn’t it funny how days can change? Since I had a sinus infection, I decided to boil a potato per Eva’s recommendation to hold onto my sinuses to draw out the pressure. Per the second recommendation, I was going to breathe the steam from the boiling water to help open up my sinuses as well. Notice the past tense in the sentence.

Here’s how it happened.

I put the boiling water in a large mixing bowl, added salt and lemon and sat down in front of it. Sophia was happily playing across the living room. When I looked up, she had ahold of a picture. I got up to remove it from her tiny hands and spilt the boiling water all over myself. That was it. That fast. Boiling water.

Let me first start off by saying I am no hero for keeping Sophia calm. It was instinct that you just don’t leave a baby unattended because you are hurt. After ripping off my clothes as fast as I could, I scooped her up and ran to the bathtub to get cold water. My skin was literally melting. I screamed. Sophia screamed. There is no way a worse possible pain exists in this world. I’ve crushed bones. I’ve had surgeries. I’ve went days with a shattered arm and no pain killers. Again, no pain compares to the feeling of large amounts of skin burning.

After Sophia and I made it upstairs and into cold water, I made the decision to call my host parents, and shorty thereafter the medics. You reach this point, where you realize not enough convincing in the world is going to make an injury “not bad” and give in. 112 is the medical “911” here in Germany. How I remembered that I have no clue, but I did. They couldn’t understand me and in my panicking state of pain there was no way in hell I could manage some German. After a good five minutes of screaming, “ich keine spreche Deutsch, I NEED AN AMBULANCE” I was finally transferred to an English speaking dispatcher who assured (after much reputation) medics were in route.

Eva gets home. Medics arrive. Lots of them. I think ten, and at this point I am screaming for something for pain, when I find out that this again, isn’t the US. When medics show up, that’s just what they are, medics….. Not doctors and thus can not provide any sort of relief. Fan freakin’ tactic. Wait five more minutes under water until the doc finally arrives by helicopter, provides loads of morphine and makes the call to transport to an intensive care burn center in Munich by helicopter.

This is where I sit today. Monday was terrifying. I was knocked out as soon as we arrived in Munich, and woke up in the ICU completely wrapped up and immobile. Single handedly, this has been the most terrifying and downright worst experience I have been through. The doctors say I am lucky, and most of my burns are superficial and will heal without graphing or surgery, but I’ll know more Friday when they change the bandages and remove the dressing.

Until then, I beg daily for my release to be on time for mom to arrive. ( I NEED to take them to the castle,) and hit on the hot surgeon while trying to hook him up with Taylor. (Welcome, Tay!)

Even if it was an emergency, and medical, and I was miserable and screaming…. I still rode in a helicopter and I guess that’s pretty cool. Best friend Katie says it still counts. CHECK that off the bucket list. (Okay, really, nothing about this experience has been funny. But you sit locked up in isolation in the ICU for three days, if you don’t laugh.. you cry and momma isn’t here yet so crying just isn’t an option right now)

Oh……and Eva had the baby!
IT’S A GIRL!
7 lbs 4 oz
20 inches long
March 5, 2013

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This aint Trip Advisor

Okay, so here is the thing.

I watch a few expatty/ aupair now living the German life/ funny girl making life laugh/ home decor genius / nice bloggy friend/ girl making her way the same way as me .. bla bla bla.. You get the hint, BLOGS, I frequently try to keep up with a few. Pretty much all of these blogs have some sort of “disclaimer” stating that they are, in fact, their own opinions and views how they see life day to day, and are not meant to be taken with any kind of serious thought or offense. (Who would have thought?) Now, the time has come where I am going to post that same little disclaimer. With that being said, I am sure this post will make a blogger or two giggle, because I am sure they have had the same thing happen a time or two. Or maybe it’ll make a few mad. But frankly I don’t care, because this is my blog and my opinion. ha!

So, here is the thing. When I tell you that Germans drive like idiots, it is because I think so. And when I told you that Bretzen is disgusting, it was also because I didn’t like it. When I say you can’t find chocolate covered pretzels in Germany, it’s because I asked three local, born and raised German families that had absolutely no clue what they were, and I have yet to find them, THUS I took the idea that they are not an everyday treat to the German culture. When I say the skies are grey but the winter isn’t that cold, it’s because to me.. it isn’t. (It’s rather freaking mild, to be honest ya sissies) See what I did there?

This ain’t Trip Advisor. I’m not here to tell you the ins and outs of German culture, people, weather, food, accommodations or the best way to make the jump across the big ol’ pond. I’m only here to tell you a thing or two about the things that I do, from day to day and life as I see it. I am from Chicago.. my view of a cold winter is going to be different than a person from Arizona. I’m not a bread fan.. my view of what “good” bread should taste like is different than a person that is obsessed with the carb overload. Here in Germany, I live in an itty bitty town just north of Munich. I live in Bavaria. My views of German culture are going to be SO much different than someone staying in Berlin, or even in downtown Munich. I learn Bayerisch, not just Deutsch/ German. I say words with a Chicago accent and I think that, (GASP!) the Germans drive like maniacs. Do they drive like maniacs in Berlin or in the alps? I don’t know. I don’t live there. I don’t see it.

(Deep breath.) SO, basically, what I’m ranting and raving about it, don’t take this blog to seriously. If I say I am living without a favorite snack from home and it can in fact be found at a store here in Germany, that’s great. But from my point of view and the stores I shop at, it can’t. From my point of view this winter is nothing. And from my point of view the drivers are crazy. If you want real, true to the bone info on this place go here. They’re experts on where you can find chocolate covered pretzels.

Don’t take this, life, or anything for that matter too seriously.

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Smillllleeeeee.

fast post, loving life

For the last month or so, my days, nights, free time and everything in between have been consumed by the immersion Deutsch Course that was required for my visa. Let me first start off by telling you that 1.) absolutely no English was spoken and 2.) Thank god it is over. Seriously, there is nothing more frustrating that sitting in a classroom from 8am to noon, Monday through Friday attempting to learn a language in which they don’t even speak your language. There is no “schlafen means to sleep, and essen means to eat” but instead “Schlafen zu gehen” and “Ich esse” Figure it out.

Although the last four weeks were completely mentally draining, I will give the Germans and their learning style credit, because I did learn quite a bit of German and now can (somewhat) successfully communicate with Emilia in German. (WOO!)

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Anyways, in the little free time I have had since the start of my class, life has happened, and I have built some awesome friendships in the mean time. I told you about Taylor and Helena before and the fact that we all get along so great is a true blessing. Leaving these girls will not be easy in due short time!  What has happened may you ask? Well…

1. Fasching- In other words, “Carnival.” Fasching is a huge festival, celebrated all over Germany that  occurs just before Lent begins. Party goers dress up in all sorts of costumes to symbolize the driving out of winter and all of its evil spirits. in other words, it’s an excuse to drink from sun up to sun down. Literally. Which brings us to…

2. Hemerglenzen- (That is spelt wrong, but I couldn’t find it correctly anywhere. Bad blogger) Hemerglezen is the festival held in my Germany hometown during fasching, in which thousands of people migrate into little Dorfen, dressed in all white, and start drinking at 6am. Helllllllooo German stereotype. At noon, a straw “puppet” (life size doll) is burned. Why? To symbolize the ending of winter. If you think 8,000 people all dressed in pajamas with face paintings in freezing weather drinking at the crack of down sounds crazy, you’re right.

But it was so. much. fun. See below. Attempting to keep up with the tradition, we started at 9am and ended at 10pm.

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Everyone had the baby bottles, I swear!

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That IS infact a sash full of shots…

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During the day, most of the festivites are outside. At night, they migrate into the local bars and clubs. I wish I could take E3 home with me. It’s a bar/ club that used to be an old icehouse. It looks like a cave and is so, so much fun.

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3. I finally made it to Regensburg! Since arriving, almost every local I have talked to has hyped up this old town city, and I have been dying to go. So, that is just what Tay, Helena and I did one Saturday morning. Regensburg is home to the Wurstkuchel, which is also the oldest “fast food” resturaunt in the world, as well as a 12th century bridge. Check that off the bucket list.

Regensburg was every bit of beautiful, cute and historical mixed into one. We had a great local tour guide to show us around, so we managed to hit all the main points in a few hours and still get back to Dorfen in time to have an evening.

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We also made our way up to the Wallahala, a hall of fame dedicated to prodominant figures throughout Germany’s history.

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One of those “my life rocks” kinda moments…

4. Eva is ready to POP! Literally. Everyday we are walking on egg shells waiting on the word that she is finally in Labor. Throughout Eva’s pregnancy we have had word that little Antonia will be arriving early. However, here we are, three weeks from her due date and she is still snuggled inside. Come onnn baby, let’s get the show on the road.

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5. Sickness. Other than my few fun stories, this is what my life has consisted of and I am sorry I don’t have much more to tell you! Apparently I was wrong when I though eating clean would keep me healthy. It hasn’t. I have been sick nonstop since arriving. After getting over the flu two weeks ago, I have now moved onto bigger and better endeavors  In comes a sinus infection, upper respiratory infection and severe Bronchitis. I went to my first doctors appointment yesterday. The doctor spoke no English.. go figure.. but the word “OH!” “ooohhhhh..” and “oh.. okay” are the same in these languages and those were the words doc had to say when he listened to the party going on in my lungs.So for now, my meals include of two antibiotics, fizzy drink tablets and hot lemon.

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mmmmm, breakfast!

6. (Probably the most important…) Less than a month until my mom arrives in Germany for a week and I get to be a “local tour guide” Who ever thought I would say that?!

Onto Spring!

Locals!

As soon as Taylor arrived, we were set on finding more friends. Set on making this town feel a bit like home for the next year and after a little homework, we now have friends within walking distance. German friends, Russian friends, Macedonian friends. That’s the cool thing about Europe. The people you meet are from all over this world we live in. And this post marks the beginning of a week’s worth of back posts from Taylor and I getting to know these people we now call our friends, I will try to keep everything in order!

While abroad, it’s not quite as easy to walk into a bar and meet new people. By all means, that is possible.. but not knowing much German in a German-speaking country can put a little damper in those plans. (Even if most of them DO know English..)

The last month I have been in German ideally alone. I had a few friends in Regensburg, which was about two hours away and other friends strung throughout Europe. But I had no one in town. There was no one to meet up with at the drop of a hat. Because making a plan for absolutely everything just takes half the fun out, right? I’m a ‘wing it’ type of chick. Apparently, so is Taylor, so we have a lot of fun being lost.

The internet is a beautiful thing. I have spent the last 30 days or so frantically trying to network with other people and expats in the area because having friends just makes everything better, and that it did. I used couchsurf to find locals in my town, my blog to find other aupairs, email when those lovely ladies contacted me and good ol’ facebook for its groups and have been completely successful and making friends.

On Friday, Taylor and I headed out to a local bar to meet Helena, Verona and Simon. Let me just start off by saying it was SUCH a great idea! Verona and Simon are the worlds cutest couple that live here in Dorfen, and Helena is an aupair from Macedonia. We started out a Johanas Cafe and ended at the E3. Verona and Simon told us all about Germany and themselves, jobs and lives while we listened intently like a couple of little kids, sponges to everything new in this culture. After they headed to party in Munich.. Taylor, Helena and I continued on to the E3 where we talked aupair life and then our real life, home, society and boys (of course!) for another three hours. At about 2 am, we all headed home and called ourselves friends.

How cute. (I still can’t stop saying that…)

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Helena, Taylor, Myself, Verona and Simon

I get by with a little help from my friends..

After waiting an entire month, Taylor is here! This post is a little late, because Taylor has been here for over a week, but we have had so much fun this last week that I have totally neglected my blog (once again..).  Taylor is also an American aupair living in the same little town as myself for the next year. We are the same age and we laugh at the same jokes. We relate to the same “what the heck?” moments, and the same questions as to why the Germans do some of the things they do. Only difference? She’s from the desert. Arizona, to be exact. Keep in mind its COLD in Germany, and we have been bundled everyday. Don’t worry, Taylor didn’t freeze to death is still currently living (in a scarf, gloves, and thick coat at all times, but she’s good.)

Why am I introducing Taylor on my blog? Because your going to hear a lot about her and given that she is in the same boat as me for the next 330 days, we spend a lot of time together. A lot as in almost everyday. Hey, the title of this post really does have a reason.

We have matured from our host mom’s planning our first get together over coffee to taking nine trains together in two days, thus seeing more tourist attractions in one weekend than most see in an entire vacation. (coming soon…)

Our inside jokes with friends and family back home (REEE!) have been shared and we are able tell stories and actually know who ‘Mareissa’ and ‘Lindsey’ are. We talk about boys… a lot. We started our immersion Dutsch Course this Monday (where not a single word of English is spoken) and we laugh at all the crazy mistakes at a cafe in town around 9pm. We also, have four local friends. (HELLO weekends…)  Like I said, this week was bunches of fun.

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Taylor and I on Day 3 of our nonstop weekend @ Neuschweinstein Castle.
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” ― C.S. Lewis

“CHECK!”

Trausnitz Castle

Let me just start off by telling  you this place was absolutely gorgeous and I will be going back very soon. Trausnitz castle was filled with history, rich in culture and a must see for those anywhere near the Munich area. Let the photo overload begin…IMG_0615

Located in Landshut, Germany and built in the year 1204, Trausnitz castle overlooks the city of Landshut from above. Trausnitz is one of many mideval castles in Bavaria built by Duke Ludwig I.

Eva and Alex planned this day trip because I was feeling rather home sick on Christmas and needed to see more of this beautiful country. Prior to our visit, I Googled Trausnitz castle and could not come up with much excitement. It looked like another old palace, but it sure was not an Ashford castle that I was used to seeing the last time I visited Europe. Lesson of the day, never trust Google images.

Although hard to capture in photos because of its location, Trausnitz was filled with all kinds of excitement and I highly recommend taking the nature trail up to the entrance. If you park at the top of the hill, it’s a winding walk through the woods that eventually leads to a little brick door titled Burg. That’s it, one word; six inches tall embedded in a 12 foot wall of bricks.

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Through this door, you start to see remains of protection walls and shoots, huge castle doors and the medieval designs of the Duke. Ah, another decaying castle. Until you turn the corner….trausnitz087

Welcome to Trausnitz. Entering through the main gates, we were greeted by a bright yellow courtyard and the flag of Bavaria. It was trying to rain all day, but the sun popped out just long enough for some fantastic pictures of the palace.

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In 1961 a massive fire ruined most of the interior of the castle so most of the authentic wall art inside was destroyed. The tour was strictly no cameras allowed so I wasn’t able to get many quality photos on our tour. The castle was used as a residence until the 17th century, a prison for noble prisoners in the 18th century and a hospital in the 19th century. Now that’s history.

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Frohe Weihnachten!

Where I live, that means Merry Christmas! And Merry is has been.

Germany has treated me so well my first two weeks. I have seen so much, tasted so much, learned so much and just experienced this astonishing culture in such magnificent ways, that I haven’t caught any of you up on anything, I’m sorry.  I sure say that a lot, but I’m still living through my own eyes more than through the eyes of my camera, you understand, right?

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If Germany has taught me two things so far it’s this:

1. The stereotype that Germans are bitter is a bunch of crap. 

3. Everything is different. Nothing is the same.

I mean, a few things are the same. People are still people, the roads are still roads and the sun rises and falls everyday. But the people are Germans! And I did 100 mph on the AutoBahn! And the sun rises and falls over those bright green rolling hills. The culture, traditions and just all around lifestyles just seem so enlightening and bright to me. The houses are painted all shades of pastels, the castles are covered in intricate designs and I still feel like I am looking at pictures.

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This last week has been Christmas filled, I managed to make it to both Munich and (my hometown) Dorfen’s Christkindlmarkt, which (I promise) I will post for you tomorrow, one with a fellow expat.. yay! Christmas Eve was celebrated and the gifts have been opened. I even managed to make it to a Church here in Germany, and while the thought is what counts, I understood nothing. Happy Birthday, baby Jesus is what I meant and I’m sure the Germans all understand. ;)

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I haven’t truly been homesick until today, of course, because it’s Christmas and I am 4600 miles away. But, as I’m being all boo-hooey over not being home for Christmas and locking myself up to watch Christmas movies all day in my room, I went upstairs to get some tea. The second I walked into the kitchen, Sophia, only 8 months old screamed, smiled the biggest smile I have ever seen and started crawling as fast as she could to me. Soon after, Eva informed me that she does not want me to feel homesick and they have planned a trip to a near medieval castle for tomorrow.

Moments like this make me so, so glad that I am here. Moments like this make me realize that as much as I miss the people at home, this is where I am meant to be right now. This is exactly where I belong on Christmas. Merry Christmas, with love, from Germany.

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Bakeries & Markets

You don’t know a bakery until you have been to one that a city lives off of. I mean that. Germans love bread. They eat so much of it I can’t keep up. Bread with breakfast, bread with lunch and bread for dinner. Granted, it’s usually different variations (croissants, rolls, sliced breads, breads with seeds, breads with flour, butter brezel <–waaaay too much of this) Bread. They love it and they live off of it. On Thursday, before taking Sophia to her class, we ventured onto the bakery. Talk about heaven.

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I got a chocolate filled croissant, by Eva’s recommendation. I should have never, ever even tried it. I don’t even like chocolate that much and this was way too good.

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After the bakery we headed to Sophia’s Thursday morning class. Its called PEKEIP. Pekiep is the shortened version of parent child program from Prag. Get ready.. This is going to sound strange! It’s about ten babies, all naked, playing for an hour. No diapers, No clothes. The room is about 80 degrees and yes, the babies pee. It’s funny because one mom runs and picks up the baby, while another mom comes running with a rag soaked in cleaner. All ten babies do this, and it actually becomes quite funny. Anyways, an instructor goes around, baby by baby and helps the parents understand how to teach them to learn. It sounds wierd, but these are 8 month old babies learning to walk and nudity in Europe is a normal occasion. Germans don’t giggle or laugh or (gasp!) as nakedness. Obviously, it works and the babies absolutely love it. Plus, It was one of the absolute cutest things I have ever seen. Seriously, imagine ten little baby butts all giggling and interacting with each other. Adorable overload.

After Pekeip and Sophia’s afternoon nap we ventured back into town to get groceries… Being the spoiled American I am I expected a grocery store with carts. Wrong! The produce, meats, cheeses… It’s all outside! Everything is locally grown and as fresh as possible. Plus, you taste everything before you buy it. Step it up, U S of A. This is how shopping should be!

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And yes, it was all as good as it looks.