Much like the rolling countryside, our lives have been filled with high highs and low lows this week. We began our week without internet, lots of rain kept us indoors, and this tiny apartment hasn’t gotten any bigger over time. If you can’t imagine the kids moods (and mine) with all of this, I’ll tell you- unbelievably grouchy. We had several terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-days, and then a break in the clouds, a signed contract on the house we were hoping for, and restored internet raised our spirits considerably towards the end of the week.
Before we left America, I knew there would be trials we would face, the stress of moving to a foreign country wasn’t lost on me, but I resolved that I wanted to approach it with calmness and contentment. So. Hard. For. Me. Those are not words I would ever use to describe myself, I strive for Christ-like composure in stressful situations, I long to trust completely and find contentment in wherever God has placed me, seeing each moment as divinely ordained and perfectly within the creators control (aka, not mine to control), and yet I fail. Miserably… Prayer please.
Besides being a stress-aholic, I’ve also been a shopaholic lately. We sold a lot of stuff before moving here, things like bar stools since we didn’t know if our new home would have a bar, baby items since we have resolved that we’re officially done having (biological) children, and outgrown decor since some of it was from the early 90’s (ie Jon’s super hero stuff). Anyways, we now have a great, big, 2300 square foot house to fill (and not with children), so furniture it is!
We’ve found that quite a bit will ship from the normal Amazon website, larger, heavier items, not so much though, so it was time to get out on the economy! Our first stop was Toom, a Home Depot-esque store, full of DIY and decorating supplies. We purchased 30 liters of paint for 190 euro, if you’re not up on your metric and currency conversion rates, I’ll just tell you that it was outrageous! Germans pay a 19% tax on all non-food items (only 7% on food, woot!), thankfully as Americans, we can opt out of that with a VAT form. We buy a form for around $3 and then don’t have to pay the German tax, so you have to weigh whether what your purchasing will save you money in using the form or not, yay math!
Jon has begun going off to the house whenever he has a spare moment to paint. We’re repainting four of the rooms and hoping to have that done before our home goods arrive on the 6th. It will be so much nicer to be able to just set up the furniture and stick it where it goes without having to worry about wet walls, or worse, painting around everything.
Yesterday, we decided to go check out a nearby Floh Markt. We set out, all prepared with our trusty GPS and plenty of euro in our pockets, but somewhere between the faulty address we had copied down and the horrid German infrastructure, we ended up lost. We asked for directions, we drove around aimlessly, no luck, so we set our sails for home… only to make another wrong turn sending us in the opposite direction of home, but towards– IKEA!
It was fate, we had to go. Several other stores were closed yesterday morning, about halfway to Ikea (it’s 45 minutes from base) we began to wonder if it was a German holiday (all stores close on EVERY minor holiday [and Sundays]… come to think of it, I think the stores are closed more often than the’re open!). Would the trip be for naught? Had we just wasted Grayson’s naptime since he was snoozing away our free time in the back seat? No, thankfully we pulled up to the United Nations-esque, 50 Ikea flag flying establishment and discovered a full parking lot.
After blundering my way through an Ikea Family Member application form (all questions in German, of course), and checking Aurora in to the “small land” to play, Jon, Gray and I set off to discover this foreign decorating paradise. Even better than paradise, it was cheap, like if Amazon and Costco had a baby that you had to put together yourself, they’d name it Ikea (I’ve heard worse baby names).
We wandered through decorated rooms filled with perfectly matching products. Grayson sampled all of their couches, beds, and anything else he could climb on. Oh, I forgot to mention that he was barefoot, screaming, and eating cheese crackers the whole time. I think the Germans really appreciated our eccentric, ‘Merican flair.
After writing down several serial numbers for products we think will look good with our remaining furniture (honestly it’s been packed up so long now I can barely remember what I already have…), we collected Aurora from the play area (she had a blast by the way, it’s HUGE, and she ran around more in that 90 minutes than she has since we arrived here) and headed to the cafe.
After getting “slightly” turned around in the giant store and going through a fire exit only door that I couldn’t read the sign for so the alarm went off (in my defense, there was a green man walking down the stairs… green means go, right?), we finally sat down to lunch. Jon had meatballs, I had schnitzel, I only slightly embarrassed myself trying to order in German, not realizing that salads came with the meal and having to go back, and forgetting my credit card at the table (Gray had been playing with my wallet earlier).
My face red (I swear it was over 100 degrees in there), I headed back to the table carrying an overflowing tray of ethnic goodies. Synopsis of food: schnitzel is good, a bit bland, horseless meatballs are alright (I prefer my family’s recipe though!), sparkling appeldryck is delicious, and all German desserts need more sugar.
After a long morning of shopping and a filling lunch, we left with a few decorative accessories, lots of ideas, and many plans to come back another day with more room in our car… and a VAT form (yep, forgot that too). Now that I have a better idea of what’s out there, I’m ready to start making some decorating decisions! We move in on Wednesday and I am so, so ready to put these plans in to action!