Thursday, February 20, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

My mom made Sadie some cute Valentine's outfits. Sadly they got here the day after Valentine's Day, but you can wear hearts any day of the year I think. Here are some pictures I took of her modelling one of the outfits. I was trying to make a backdrop, and realized after that I should have draped the sheet over something instead of just laying it on the floor, so maybe next time the pictures will be less amateur-hour. Also the hat was a bit small and she isn't crazy about hats anyway, which is why in some of these she looks less than happy.

I think this one turned out the best 

Mom, stop! 

 Seriously, Mom, why are you doing this to me?!

This last one is from yesterday when I left a box of cookies on the couch and she grabbed it and started reaching in. It was just too cute not to shoot.

We'll be going on a trip either this weekend or next, so stay tuned for vacation deets and pics!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Day in the Life

Today I kinda kept track of what I did during the day, just to give people a general idea of how things go around here. I don't necessarily have a "typical" day, but this is pretty indicative of my general routine.

First things first: Sadie wakes me up around 7:30, while Hunter is getting ready to go to work. I feed Sadie, then get her dressed and changed, and a little after 8:00, I'm ready to eat my breakfast: muesli and yogurt. Before I start, I throw a load of diapers in the washer. While I'm eating, I throw on an episode of Supernatural, and then when I'm done I work on my grocery list. After the episode, Sadie is falling asleep on the couch, so we take a nap or go back to bed, depending on how you look at it.

Sadie wakes me up again at around 11:15, I feed her, and then we get ready to go get groceries. For me, the hardest thing is getting out the door. I have to buy groceries every few days, and sometimes I would really rather just lie in bed with Sadie. But I force myself to get dressed and put on makeup and everything. Usually once I start getting things done I will end up doing more than I thought, but at the bare minimum today I have to get groceries, since we don't really have any dinner food.

Before I go shopping, I stop to go to the ATM, and mail a DVD. We get Lovefilm, which is basically like Netflix. While I'm in that area, I grab a Red Bull and a pink donut. There's this one bakery, the pink donuts taste just like a Dunkin' Donuts pink donut so I'm getting them every time I walk by.

Today I'm hitting up the Asian supermarket. There are a few different grocery stores I go to, depending on what I need, and tonight I'm making Kao Soi. While I'm there, I get a few other things, too. They have imported Arm&Hammer baking soda, which is the only place I've seen it here, as well as sesame seeds. I also got Chaokoh coconut milk and mirin (cooking sake), plus a few kinds of noodles. I picked up some bowls as well, since the only bowls we have are "soup plates" and just don't have the volume/height for a noodle soup, as I learned last time I made Kao Soi.

My bag isn't as heavy as I thought it would be, so instead of taking a bus, I decide to walk. I had been meaning to buy a lighter jacket. The coat I have is really nice, but heavier than I really needed for the winter here (it's been really mild). I have only worn it out a few times, usually at night, because during the day it's just too much, especially when I go into a store and they are blasting the heater. So I swing by H&M to get a coat, and grab a sweater while I'm there. They have these great fair isle type knit sweaters, and the one I bought today is my third one, but at least it was on sale.

Since I've done so much walking and it's right there, I treat myself to McDonald's for lunch. I eat McD's more than I expected I would, but German McDonald's has so many things that the American one doesn't! AND they have the McRib year round (and don't bother giving me a lecture about the McRib. I don't care what it's made of, only that it's tasty). So I grab a burger to take home and at this point Sadie's carrier and the shopping bag is getting a bit heavy, so I hop on a bus. I basically just got on the first one I saw, because all of the buses from that stop go in my general direction, but I realized when I got on that it wouldn't take me as far as I needed to go. No problem, at the place where I switch buses, there is a drugstore so I popped in and got Sadie some baby spoons, now that she's starting to taste real foods.

When I get home, it's about 1:45. I eat my lunch and watch another episode of Supernatural. After that, I feed Sadie, put away yesterday's dry clothes, and hang the diapers up to dry. I also order a new carseat, since ours was lost on a plane. Hunter told me today he is going to take an extra day or two off this weekend, which means we'll be going somewhere (TBA). I want to make sure we have the seat in case we need it. That's pretty much as long as Sadie can entertain herself, so we head back to the couch to watch some Downton Abbey while I do some knitting.

Here is where I intended to put this cute picture of Sadie shoving yarn into her mouth while I was knitting, but my phone apparently didn't take the picture. Sorry.

At around 5:00, when that episode is done, I'm feeling pretty exhausted. I really want to take a quick nap with Sadie before our Skype with my sister at 6:00, but there was something else I wanted to do today: mop the kitchen and bathroom floors. This is one of those jobs I hate because a day after it's done, it's like you didn't even do it, but then if you don't do it pretty frequently, it gets gross. I decide I'll work on it as long as Sadie will let me, in other words, as long as she'll play quietly herself. I'm able to get the kitchen floor done and then she's pretty much wailing, so we go lie down for a few minutes.

Hunter gets home around 6:00 and shortly after that, we Skype with my sister for about an hour. I make dinner, which we eat while watching a few episodes of Community. Last night for dinner, we had some cabbage salad, which I heat with water and puree for Sadie. She only tastes a little bit, and I put the rest in an ice cube tray in the freezer. At this point, Sadie was doing her exhausted cry, so I put her pajamas on, fed her, and now she's sleeping so I can write! I'll probably go to bed within an hour (so around midnight) and I don't think I'll have any trouble sleeping tonight!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Product Review: Nook Tablet HD+

Alright, this is kinda different from what I usually talk about on here but who knows, maybe someone will find it useful.

When the Kindle first came out, I was extremely opposed to it. I was one of those "a book is an object" people and I loved just exploring the library and finding random old things. I still feel that way, and there are some books that don't work in e-book format (I just bought House of Leaves, for instance), but when the Nook came out, I kinda wanted one for a few reasons. At the time, the Kindle was a lot more proprietary than it is now. You couldn't read epubs on it (I'm pretty sure you can now?) and you couldn't get Overdrive books from the library with it. The Nook had an Android OS, which I'm a fan of. So for Christmas of 2010, I received the original Nook Color. This thing had been through a lot. During the tornado, I had left it sitting on the couch. When we went into the living room, the roof was gone, the couch was halfway across the room, but the Nook was sitting there, still kicking.

Once I moved abroad, the Nook was indispensable. Obviously, I couldn't bring very many paper books with me, so I read tons of books on the Nook, both from the library and ones that I bought. Since I moved to Germany, I read 63 ebooks. Assuming (pretty conservatively, since I read fairly long books) each book is an inch thick, that amounts to a stack exactly as tall as I am. I had also occasionally used it to play games or look at knitting patterns, although I mostly used it exclusively as an ereader.

However, shortly before Christmas, it started acting weird. Basically it would be plugged in for a while, but then stop charging around 50%. The charger was pretty beat up at this point, so I thought it was probably that but then I tried a different charger and the same thing happened. With as much as I read, I thought it would definitely be worth it to buy a new Nook. I wanted another Nook for two reasons: all of the books I'd already bought could be downloaded to it, and it had access to the Google Play store, so I could put the Kindle App on there and read Hunter's books, too. We were going back to America so I could buy one there, plus if I bought it in Montana there would be no sales tax!

My original plan was to get the 7" one. This is the sort of regular, book sized one. But at the store, Hunter suggested I get the bigger one because it wasn't that much more expensive and I could take more advantage of the tablet type features. I'm really glad I listened to him because I love it so much! I can play tablet games like Ticket to Ride and Elder Sign:Omens, read books from Google Play, Kindle, and the Nook store, read my RSS feeds, do crosswords, look things up in Chrome... it was really worth it. I even found a knitting app that can look up and import .pdf patterns from various sources and download them, plus it has an integrated stitch counter. And for me, one of the most important things is that I can read in the dark. Because of Sadie, I'm awake a lot at night while Hunter is sleeping and I can read unobtrusively.

There are of course, a few cons. There is no camera or USB port. It's a little weird that there's no camera, since even the Kindle Fire has one, but really if I want to Skype I have a laptop for that. I don't really need a USB port, either, but I can see how some would think it was a nice feature. I guess the only relevant-to-me complaint I have is that it does TOO MUCH. I have read slightly less than I used to because I can do all these other things on it! So, I wouldn't recommend it if all you want to do is read because there are cheaper devices for that. But if you want a tablet that's cheaper and a bit less functional than the Windows thing or an iPad, this is a really good option.

Hope someone benefited from this.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Neanderthal Museum Trip

Last weekend, we took a day trip to the Neanderthal Museum. It's a little bit outside Dusseldorf, so not too long of a train ride, plus there is a train that leaves from the station right by our house. It was a bit of a rainy day, but not too bad. From the train station, you have to walk down this kind of windy hill to get to the museum. Hunter and I were observing that in America, no one would ever expect you to do that. Anyway, I actually didn't know Neanderthals were discovered in Germany until I was watching an episode of Futurama. They showed on the map where they were found and I was like, "That's close to where we live!"

Anyway, the museum also had a special exhibit about mummies and Egyptian things. We again experienced the German reliance on the "honor system." Basically, you had to pay extra to see the mummy thing, but the only thing keeping you from just walking into it was a sign that said not to. Germans. Anyway, it was pretty cool. There were two mummies, an adult and a one-year old. There were also some other artifacts. Pretty amazing how the artwork is so well preserved and keeps its color even after thousands of years. I guess they thought the stuff was going to need to stay with them forever so they made it tough.

The Neanderthal portion of the museum was also interesting. There were exhibits about their discovery, physiology, and culture. I think something Hunter and I both would have appreciated was more information about the methodology used in coming to the conclusions they did. There really aren't that many bone fragments, but they assert a lot of things about what Neanderthal culture was like. These are obviously conclusions drawn from study, I just wish they talked more about what specifically led them there. That probably isn't interesting to most people, though. All of the signs are in both German and English, so that was pretty useful.

By the time we got back, we were pretty tired. We decided that next time we do a trip, even if it isn't too far away, we may just get a hotel and make a weekend of it, because travelling with a baby is kind of a big production. There is a museum nearby I want to go to with an exhibit on Nazi fashion, so hopefully I'll be able to post about that soon!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Travels With Sadie, Part Seven: The Leap Home

Alright, so in the days leading up to our departure from America, I was really dreading going back, for several reasons. We had just spent 2+ weeks really relaxing and enjoying ourselves, and I didn't think I was ready to go back to the day-to-day routine. Like, having to go to the grocery store almost every day, navigating a foreign city, etc. But Hunter helped me by pointing out that if we lived in America, it wouldn't be like a vacation every day. We would still have to do all of the annoying stuff. I was also afraid that I would basically have to get used to Germany all over again, that it would be like starting over. Hunter convinced me that wasn't true either because we already knew so much more than we did than when we first got there.

Anyway, we got to the airport and were told our departing flight was delayed an hour. This wasn't really a big deal, because we had a 4.5 hour layover in London. The layover wasn't idea, and we had considered changing our tickets and spending a night in London, but it was going to be so expensive to change the tickets, we almost could have just taken a trip to London for that price. We did decide to spend the night in Dusseldorf again when we got in. It isn't so far from Aachen, but by that time we would already have been traveling for so long, plus it would be a bit late.

We flew British Airways on the way back; we had both had good experiences with them before and really, they are one of my favorite airlines. But this flight was just not good. It might not have been the worst flight I've been on, but it was definitely the worst BA flight. We had the bulkhead seat again, which didn't cost anything extra like it did on American. However, on American there is significant extra legroom and on BA there isn't. So when they came to hook up the bassinet, it made it impossible to get up or even pull out the TV screens. Sadie slept in the bassinet while we ate, but then we asked them to take it away because we needed to be able to get up. Also, they had the on-demand viewing on the screens, and Hunter and I were going to watch Blue Jasmine together, but my screen wasn't working, so that was pretty lame. Basically I was cramped, uncomfortable, and bored the whole time.

The flight into Dusseldorf must not have been as bad because I can't really remember it, and I can't even remember much of the layover in London. We got our bags, ate at McDonald's in the airport (I believe Hunter's first McDonald's trip in Europe), and then went to check in to our hotel. It didn't take long to feel "right at home" again. We were standing in the check-in line; there was only one employee working and she was helping someone else. Some people got in line behind us and suggested we step up a little bit. That is just so, so, German, nitpicking the way you do some tiny little thing that doesn't even make a difference. I mean, could the invisible other employee not see us or something? Typical. Anyway, we checked in, got rested, and went back to Aachen the next day.

And yeah, it was a bit like we had never left. It wasn't that hard to get back into the routine, but there are things I still miss (mainly the Diet Coke). I'm not sure when we will visit America again. I really wanted to go for my 10 year high school reunion this summer, but it's looking more and more like that won't happen. It's just really cost prohibitive. I thought this early I might be able to get a good deal on a flight but the cheapest I've found is $1300/person and that just isn't practical, as much as I hate to admit it.

So, we are back in Germany (for like 3 weeks now, this series took a while) and soon I'll get back to more posts about Sadie, Germany, and my life in general.