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!)

20130312-114113.jpg

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.

Image

Smillllleeeeee.

Life in the fast lane

So, here I am still in Germany, still in awe every few days that I am, in fact, living in Europe. I have actual friends that will be near impossible to leave, an incredible view from my windows every morning, a furry friend that comes to visit me daily and I can actually understand and somewhat speak a lick or two of German.

Image

With pleasure comes pain, however; and I have missed home and my family more than ever these last few weeks. Attempting to replenish the bank account I depleted in my first two months, my friends and I have tried to lay low as much as possible, and pass up and trip or two to Munich in the mean time. Don’t let this fool you, we have had plenty of fun rocking out to Avril Lavigne and stuffing our mouths with pizza until 3 am. Taylor’s 23rd Birthday was this week, and that is exactly what we did. Helena and I made her chocolate covered Stroop Waffles and Pretzels. Here’s one that’ll blow your mind. Germany… the land of beer, pretzels and chocolate… has never heard and is just repulsed by the idea of chocolate covered pretzels. WHAT?! I’ll let you know when I accept that statement, because they were DEEELISH!

Image

Hopefully, coming soon will be plans for travelling to London and Paris, via the InterRail train pass. The idea of being able to travel up to 30 countries for the same price as a plane ticket is just genius!

Big news in my life is the countdown to mom arriving, which is in something like 1 week and 5 days. Not that I am counting down the hours or anything (288). And that means, the week of my birthday will be spent in the mountains.. yeah, I said it and I can not WAIT! (Now.. if the snow would just go away, that would be perfect!)

Image

Eva, still has yet to have the baby. I haven’t updated you much on this, sorry. But about 3-4 times a week we get a “this is it” scare and we all start to get a little panicky that labor has (finally!) begun and we are on our way to the end of this pregnancy. Buuuut, every time it’s just kidding, and against the doctors foresight.. this baby is, in fact, NOT coming early and we are all still walking on egg shells. Any day, any day…. I have been saying that for the last month, but really, this time it’s ANY day. Eva’s actual due date is this coming week.. so come onnnnn baby! 

 

It’s a beautiful day in Germany

It's a beautiful day in Germany

Today, January 31st, I walked home from class. The weather is a warm 65 degrees and the sun is shining its brightest. I actually carried my winter coat home. I love it. I love this. Sunshine, Germany, and life are making me oh, so, happy.

“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away”

and so, it begins!

Okay, so I’m not as good at this blogging thing as I once thought, but I promise its because my life is so awesome I haven’t had the time to sit and write about it. I’m usually four “blog worthy” events past the one I’m writing about and now I know what my bloggy friends meant by this can sometimes be like a job. I’m tired, hungover and a hot bath is calling my name, but I like you guys so here I am!

Mozart was a genius. Two months ago this thought would have never crossed my mind, but it did, has and always will. Why am I talking about Mozart? Becaussseeeee I made the jump! What I mean is, I broke the border and I’m writing this post cozied up in a 600 year old Victorian hotel in the heart of Austria in this great composers hometown, and Mozart is playing in the background. (Moments like these, I really, really love life.)20130120-231418.jpg20130120-230957.jpg

We got into Salzburg late, because well…. Munich nightlife was a little too good to us last night and there was no way in hell we could even stand daylight until about 1pm. It was a good, good night and after scarfing down a half a bottle of Tylonol, way too much Tai food and a gallon of water, we recovered. Anyways, due to our initiation into European partying, our arrival in Salzburg was a little delayed, so I haven’t gotten to much yet. I have, however; used that “cute” word about a thousand times and enjoyed a fine 3 course Austrain dinner.

Tomorrow, were off to explore castles, cuisine, Mozart and the Sound of Music (literally). Oh yeah, then to a spa …….in the middle of the Alps.

Once again, life… Rocks.

20130120-231409.jpg

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…)

Image

Helena, Taylor, Myself, Verona and Simon

Shut up & Drive

“zero to sixty in 3.5, baby you got the keys, shut up & drive.”

For the last month (yes, I said that.. I have officially lived here a month!), I have been dreading the whole driving thing. Why?

1. It’s a diesel and that is just unheard of in a car

2. It’s a stick shift

3. As much as I love my Indianapolis 500, I have had 1 too many heart attacks while being the passenger in this race they call life, er.. driving in Germany and…

4. where the heck are the street lights?!!

I have officially been here 31 days. I have been living, breathing and taking in Germany for 31 days and I still freak out over the driving. THIS is where all those commercials are where they are doing 100 around a mountain stream from. It has to be.

Eva and I decided this week that I would get my driving lesson today, while we were childless because things are going to get hectic around here real soon. Eva has had contractions all week, although she isn’t near labor and the baby is doing fine, we are expecting her little arrival early. We have seven weeks left until baby Antonia’s due date, so we are attempting to get this house in order in the mean time. (HA!)

Sophia at school, Emilia in Kindergarten, Eva 8 months pregnant, Alex rushing around in Munich and me in the drivers seat on about 3 hours of sleep. Let that sink in for a second.

As we set off out of the drive way, I managed to swipe three cars on the way out. Just like that. They park way too close together and I’m not used to this. I’m kidding. I didn’t hit anything and everyone survived. Eva didn’t go into stress induced preterm labor and my heart is back to beating at a normal pace. It only took about an hours time and some Luke Brian.

We did good. Learning to drive a diesel stick shift isn’t exactly what I would call amusing.. or fun or even slightly enjoyable, but I managed it. WE managed it. We both also admitted whole heartedly that we will never be able to go into the driving field. Eva kept telling me to go faster, I kept shaking. Is it really necessary to do 100 km on a dark road, on a steep hill that ends in a curve? Germany thinks so.  (And you guys all thought I drove like a maniac before!) And, while I am at it. They must be noctural, because where are the street lights?!

Anyways, after an hour of practice, tons of laughing, 10 motor kills, two times of Eva having to get in the drivers seat to figure out what I was doing wrong, we managed and we made it back home. We also saw some killer views, but unfortunately, I was driving and couldn’t get any pictures. Public transportation was made for a reason, right?

Good news of the day, I found out I can see the alps from about ten minutes away. I am so there when the skies clear up. (say.. in May if we’re lucky??)

Speaking of the Alps.. that is exactly where you can find me this weekend. Taylor is finally here (THANK GOD) and we are off to Munich on Saturday and Neuschwanstein Castle on Sunday with a group of friends. Did you hear that?! I’ve been here a month and I finally have friends! Next weekend, I officially start border hopping to Salzburg, Austria for two days with another friend. Then, in three weeks, I’ll be in Italy with another friend. Everything is better when your not alone!

Europe is freakin’ awesome.

Image

Girl on fire

I let you all in on a little secret about how awesome New Years was in Germany here. I wasn’t kidding. I was holding back tears and my cheeks were hurting from smiling so hard the entire night.

If there is one thing that Germany has got a grip on, it’s celebrating New Years. That, or just celebrating anything. Or just drinking in general (reclosable beer bottles, seriously?!) , but we will stick with the New Years and celebration assumption for morality purposes.

Up until the night before, I had planned on staying home with my host family and attending their annual New Years eve celebration complete with raqlet, fondue and the fireworks. “If this is my only New Years here, do I want to spend it home?” Absolutely not. So, the night before I was on a mission to make a plan. In another country. Through websites in a German language.  It was a tough call between celebrating in Regensburg and going to Tollwood Winter Festival, but with a little help from almost a local, we managed to figure out where and when we would celebrate. Tollwood Winter Festival made its way onto our agenda. Tickets were almost sold out, but we managed to snag a pair and I am so glad that we did.

A pair. We managed a pair of tickets. Ester had to beg and plead at the door for about twenty minutes before some god blessed soul sold her an extra ticket and we were in. Think Lollapolooza, put it under brightly colored tents, double the strength of the alcohol, put it in the middle of winter, add a German accent and language barrier and call it New Years at Tollwood. (Right away, sorry for crappy quality pictures, I was sick of pulling my camera out after the first. So everything is off my cell phone.)

newsss

After burning our mouths off  finishing our Pad Tai and Weissbier we headed to the music tents to enjoy a night of dancing and rocking out to various types of music. Including American! YAY. Jamaram was awesome and played both German and American music. However the fun hadn’t begun until we made our way over to Rockomotion. Rockomotion played all American covers, and it was so. much. fun. I even, ironically, met a German girl who was an au pair in Chicago. What are the odds?! This world is such a cool place.

IMG_0697

Complete with old couple dancing the night away.

IMG_0708

IMG_0693

hansssss

Three minutes to midnight and we headed outside to see the fireworks. They were nonstop and as far as you could see. And I thought the 4th of July was intense!

Please excuse the voice. I was holding back tears and smiling so hard it hurt. Forgive me.

And this was almost twenty minutes later. Germany still going strong.

Girl on fire. Those are the only words that I can currently muster up to explain my feelings at 12:00 midnight New Years Eve. I was so overcome with the sounds, sights and feelings that at the exact strike of the year 2013, it finally hit me that I now live in Germany. I’m not here on vacation and I don’t have a return date. I literally live in Germany. And I couldn’t be happier. I cried tears of joy. (see below) I cried at fireworks, what is happening to me?!

tears

I hope you all enjoyed New Years as much as I did.

One for the record books, that’s for sure.

Almost makes me want to plan for 2014 ;)

Eva’s Carrot Cake

This afternoon Eva (or rather baby in the making #3) demanded that we make carrot cake for absolutely no reason. And let me tell you this was, by far, the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

Granted, it wasn’t coated in dreamy creme cheese icing and covered in nuts, BUT this cake was so good it didn’t need an inch thick of delicious fat covering it. We simply paired it with fresh whipped cream and it complimented the cake perfectly.

This was so good, I decided to convert this for everyone back at home as well. (this took me an hour to do and confirm, so you really should go make this everyone back in small town USA)

Image

So, for everyone here in Europe:

Eva’s Karottenkuchen

3 Eggs
200 mL Oil
230 g brown sugar
185 g flour (whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
90 g walnuts/pecans (we used walnuts)
250 g grated fresh carrots

Beat eggs, oil and brown sugar until smooth.
In separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat into egg mixture. Fold in carrots and walnuts.
Put baking paper in the bottom of a spring form pan, put mixture into pan.
Bake at 180 degrees C for 20 minutes and 150 for the remaining 25.
Let cool and top with sprinkled powered sugar.

Fresh cream:
Open a container of fresh cream and beat it. That’s it.
Don’t beat it to much, or it’ll turn to butter!

Eat cake with cream on the side and indulge in heaven.

Image

And, for everyone back at home using cups and not all these crazy mL and g.. here it is for you.

Eva’s Carrot Cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup of oil, plus a little splash
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 1/3 c flour (whole wheat is what we used)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 c walnuts/pecans (we used walnuts)
1 3/4 cups grated fresh carrots

Beat eggs, oil and brown sugar until smooth.
In seperate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
Beat into egg mixture. Fold in carrots and walnuts.
Put baking paper (wax paper) in the bottom of a springform pan, put mixture into pan.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes and 300 degrees F for the remaining 25.

Fresh cream:
Open a container of fresh cream and beat it. That’s it!
Don’t beat it to much, or it’ll turn to butter!

Eat cake with cream on the side and indulge in heaven. You’re welcome US of A!

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.

oldcastle_original

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.

IMG_0616065IMG_0605

collageeee_original

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.

124