Social Security in Limbo >.<

If you come to the US as an expat, there is one document that seems to outweigh anything else in importance. It’s not your passport or foreign ID, not even your visa – of course they are important and you wouldn’t be granted entrance into the country without them, but I’m talking about a document that you need in order to start your life here:

The SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER (SSN)

Continue reading “Social Security in Limbo >.<“

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House Hunting Happy End

WE HAVE A HOUSE *cue exciting grin on my face* !!

Yes, we finally have confirmation on “our house”….Last Saturday, our realtor went house hunting with us again, and we hoped it would turn out better than the 1st episode. We knew she had a really nice home reserved for a showing in a rather upscale housing estate right next to a lake, but the owner had the same agent who tried to play “price poker” with us during the last house hunting session when we fell in love with that one house described in my other update. So we were very skeptical. Seeing the house itself we were also a bit disappointed in how the previous renter took care of it. They could have cleaned up a little bit more after themselves and not ruined each wall with marks from furniture or scratches from whatever. They must have had kids who they let go wild with stickers, they were literally all over the house, doorframes, closets, even the bathroom sinks…I mean, it would have taken hourse to scratch off each one of those stupid stickers.

Anyhow, our realtor also reserved showing appointments for 4 other houses… Continue reading “House Hunting Happy End”

Sugar & Spice

Coming to the US, we knew that the food is a little different here – after all food is part of a country’s culture, and also personal taste & habits can differ a lot. We expected the food to be a little more fatty and sugary than what we are used to from Germany or our own individual style of cooking & eating.

Still, it can be pretty surprising to bite into certain foods and realize that they taste so much different to what you know or even expected. For us & our taste, the sugar seems almost overwhelming and in nearly every food you grab. I personally do like to eat cake & candy here and there, and that’s where you expect the sugar taste, obviously. However there are moments when I did not expect such a strong sugar flavour at all, for example when eating cole slaw (salad). Other Examples are bread/buns, scrambled eggs, mustard, beans, soup, chicken even…We mostly noticed this at the breakfast time in our Hotel but also when eating out, that nearly always there seems to be an underlying flavour of sugar.

In contrary to that, we’re missing the taste of salt and other spices a little – I’ve been adding salt and pepper regularly to my breakfast eggs, and our daughter seems to unconciously notice a little lack of salt in her system as well, because she was asking for sprinkles of salt on her hand to lick it off (which she’d never done before).

To be clear, I’m not complaining about the food itself, it is just my/our observation because we aren’t used to this style of more sugary food – and of course, once we get to move into a real house, our own “home”, we will be able to cook & prepare all meals by ourselves and that way, we can add sugar & spice in doses we personally prefer 🙂

 

Arriving in Michigan

We have arrived safely in Michigan on June 6th, 2016.

After a long day of getting up very early and the 2 flights that took us from Berlin to Frankfurt/Main and then to Detroit, Michigan, we were totally exhausted, very tired, but extremely happy to finally be here!
img_5358This is me on the evening of June 6th, only a few hours after we landed, sitting at the local Applebee’s in Novi (just around the corner of our Hotel, in which we’ll be residing for the next weeks until we find a place to move into)

We were positively surprised by the child friendy atmosphere in the restaurant (acutally almost any restaurant here), where they bring a high-chair, crayons and a kid’s menue to draw on without us as the customers even saying a word.

Same goes for kid’s drinks that comes with a lid & straw because every parent knows the fear of what a mess can be created when you give toddlers real glasses full of liquids.

It’s not just the staff of places like restaurants or the hotel, but the immediate & open friendliness with which people in general approach you. It’s so easy to start a conversation with random people in different places – especially if you have a toddler on your hand.

We got a rental car near the airport and checked into our hotel: Staybridge Suites Novi. Our Suite is perfect for us as a temporary home with living room area, kitchen space, a desk to sort out papers and a bedroom with 2 queensize beds – one of which our daughter likes to take every possible sleeping position in:
img_5359She enjoys the space she has in such a bed that seems huge to her. Falling asleep seems easy since we got her and she even sleeps through the night, which we weren’t used to until now. I think it’s safe to say that she has adjusted well to her new surrounding already – no jetlag, no uneasiness when encountering people.

If she runs into kids anywhere, she immediately engages with them, even without speaking the same language (yet): waving, and holding hands or a smile are universal!

Of course it is a bit straining for her to run around with us these first few days trying to get everything started & applying for all the documents and things like a bank account or meeting with the realtor to talk about what we are looking in for a home. It’s boring stuff for toddlers – I get that, but thanks to the aforementioned positivity & friendliness everywhere it’s a little less exhausting for her AND for us as well.

We have arrived – body & mind. And we intend to stay for a while 🙂

The Process of Moving Out (of Germany)

It is done! We are officially moved out of our apartment in Berlin and as of now: “homeless” (We are staying in a hotel until our flight though). The whole entire process of “moving out” took 5 days: The first 2 days were just packing & moving out our household stuff, and the last 3 days consisted of cleaning up the apartment to get it ready for handing over the keys to the landlord today.

For part one: packing & moving our entire household, we had a moving company called Santa Fe Relocations that was hired by the company that coordinates my husbands expat work matters. The 4 guys who’ve been on the job, in our apartment did a fantastic job wrapping all of our stuff carefully and safely. They also never gave us the feeling that we are in the way, especially our little toddler daughter who had a ball running around between all the boxes and decorating them with “stickers”. They were so thoughfully to pack the couch last, so I’d still have a place to sit/lounge because I’m 6 months pregnant at this time. Furthermore, they engaged in little play moments with our daughter, playing “catch ball” or showing her the tools, such as an electric drill and offering her to push the button herself once. They let her climb into the truck and inspect every corner. What I’m saying is, that they made this moving experience as comfortable as possible for us, realizing we as a family are connected to our stuff, instead of just focusing on the “packing boxes” process only. Awesome guys!!


They wrapped & packed everything on the first day, and moved it downstairs on the second. ^^^On the first picture you see the entrance of our apartment complex filled with boxes of our stuff. We were waiting for the truck with the container to arrive. Once it did, the guys from the moving company managed to put all of those boxes into the container within 45 minutes – again, awesome! That container will leave northern Germany on tuesday (one day after we leave the country) and if everything goes well, it will arrive in Michigan by the end of June.
Moving can be a stressful time, and even though we didn’t have to lift one finger to pack or move our household, we were there mentally every minute, and it was nice to have such a competent team on our side.

As I said in the beginning of this update, the following 3 days were spent cleaning up the apartment, throwing stuff away that we don’t need anymore and getting ready to hand over the keys. That actual “Goodbye” to our apartment – the place we brought home our first child right after birth – was said today, when we finished the process of moving out and gave back all our keys to the landlord.

We are ready for the next step now – preparing for the flight to Michigan.

 

 

writing to my younger self『blogtober 2014』

On day 27 of blogtober2014 I will send something back in time

A letter to your younger self

Dear young Tina,
I know you and me, we don’t believe much in looking back in time and pondering about the fact what we could have done differently, so I don’t really want to send you a list of tips of what to do and what not to do. Every step, ever thing that happens in your life is connected to something else, and will lead you to other places (geographically & metaphorically speaking) and with your future unfolding and living your life you will see how everything play out.

I just want to remind you of one thing that I know deep down you already are doing: LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION – your heart, your sould, your innermost voice. It is nearly always leading you to in a good direction, to an interesting path, with the right decisions for you. When you are in a situation where you are in doubt, or asking yourself what to do – take a step back, close your exyes, and listen to that intuition – then decide! And don’t spend another second pondering about it.

You will learn from experience and make your own decision as the years unfold. After all that’s what life is all about.

Sending you a warm hug from the future,
me (who is in a very happy personal place right now, so there is something you can look forward to in your future for sure 😉

My dream vacation always will be…『blogtober 2014』

Day 21 of blogtober2014 takes me back to Japan – my “home away from home” kind of place.

Your Dream Vacation
I already wrote a blog post on our trip to Iceland, which was a bit like a dream, a totally different world ^^ In that blog entry I also mentioned anothere country which I want to talk about now as it is & always will be my “dream vacation place” to go 🙂

JAPAN – 日本 – TÔKYÔ – 東京
Ever since my first stay there in May 2008 (when I went to language school in Tôkyô) I fell in love with the city & country more and more. Tôkyô is a city that is making me feel just so…alive. I could probably write a novel-length entry about why I like it so much & keep going back every year, but maybe I will leave that for future blog entries, you know…talking about different aspects individually.
tttower
view from Sky Tree over Tôkyô – with the Sky Tree casting its shadow

I filmed some footage on our last trip to (Tokyo) Japan in September 2013 and put it together with photos in a sort of vacation video. The annotations are in German but I think you can still enjoy watching if you can’t read German as pictures and video clips don’t need much explanation 🙂

Every time I go to Japan a little piece of my heart stays there, and I feel homesick for it when coming back to Germany.

 

Nothing to fear but fear itself ?!『blogtober 2014』

Day 20 of blogtober2014 tackles my fears.

Your biggest fear?
I have more than one, all equally scary to me in their own way:

  • Health: getting cancer. It’s such a cruel and sadly common illness, and I’m scared that one day I’m one of many having to suffer to from it. Even my battle with Endometriosis fades a bit compared to my fear of getting cancer.
  • Relationship: Losing my husband, my baby, my family. Now, I have no reason be scared of losing my husband in a sense of him leaving me or vice versa, but the fear of life taking him from me in some horrible way. Same goes for my baby. This fear has become very dominent since I gave birth. Is it the hormones, is it the “being a mother”? I don’t know, but it’s there.
  • Animals: Spiders. Teeny tiny ones or big ones, deadly or not – I see them, I scream! Having been bitten by a spider (hidden in a gardening glove, I didn’t see the monster) and my hand swelling up to the point where I couldn’t move my fingers anymore, didn’t quite help that fear
  • Random: All animals that fly – Birds, butterflies, moths, bees & wasps, bats…Now, it’s not necessarily the animal itself that scares me (except for wasps & moths!) but more so their “movement”. Especially those who fly seemingly uncoordinated put me in a shock where I just want to dig a hole and hide in it. Other people like to go to the birdhouse at the zoo, I skip it. Some enjoy the butterflies in spring & summer, I jump like a freak when it comes near me (read: I see one). I can’t help it, it’s like a reflex I can’t do anything about.

Secrets 『blogtober 2014』

Day 18 of blogtober2014 is here!

Share a secret about you!
I honestly have to say, that I don’t really have secrets. I’m a person who wears her heart on a sleeve, and generally tend to not do anything I’d have to be ashamed of telling people. Also, if I’d had a “secret I’ll take to my deathbed with me” – I probably wouldn’t share it on a blog, would I?!

Maybe I can share just something random, not necessarily a secret, but something I havn’t shared publicly before…let me think for a second…

Okay: it so happened to me before (once or twice) that people working at the cash register gave me back too much money in return. Well, not hundreds of Euros, we are talking about 1 Euro or less. I always kept my mouth shut, and walked off.

There you go! Some might thing that’s too lame to be a secret, some might thing I’m the devil for doing it – personally, I don’t care about your judgement on that.